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Hear them roar: Tigers tear apart Nighthawks in New England

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The New England Tigers challenged the Hettinger-Scranton Nighthawks in a back and fourth 4-set game Thursday September 29.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press
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NEW ENGLAND, N.D. — The New England Tigers let out a victory cry Thursday night as they clipped the wings of the Hettinger-Scranton Nighthawks in a 3-1 victory at home. Despite battling illness, the Tigers' persistence and determination propelled them to a regional record of 4-1.

The Nighthawks would lead the first set to start the match, but a series of misplaced shots beyond the line would hand easy points to the Tigers who quickly climbed into the lead as a result. New England smoothly set passes to their setter and dominated at the net with Tigger-like hops.

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Junior outside hitter Sophie Olsonawski serves the ball for New England.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

“We didn’t give up,” Taylor Hafner, Tigers head coach, said. “We had a long, busy week so we’re pretty tired and we’re battling some sickness on our team.”

Although the Tigers entered the game below top health and form, their middle hitters stepped up their play providing stellar blocks that saved the game from toppling into a fifth set.

New England let off the gas in the second and and find themselves scrambling throughout the match to close a rocketing score deficit. The Hawks would tally several snappy shots that the Tigers would be in the right place to defend, but didn't, while other shots landed in spots left wide open.

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The Tigers came up short in the second set but were able to regroup and win the last two.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

“We didn’t have a great mindset in the second,” Hafner said.” Their middle was very good and she capitalized on us.”

Hettinger-Scranton would take the momentum into a lead in the third set, but New England quickly answered back, rallying to tie the score twice before scooting into an insurmountable lead.

“Our serving struggled a couple times, but then we got into the groove of it and it started going pretty well,” Hannah Frank, senior Tigers middle hitter, said. “The whole team cheering was a great thing. It’s exciting when our hitters get a solid kill.”

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New England's front row offense works together to smack down a shot.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

The Tigers lineup consists heavily of returning juniors and seniors who have partnered well over the years and with the new group of freshmen to maintain their cohesiveness in both the front and back rows.

Hafner says the team’s leadership shined through at the end of Thursday's game.

“Hannah really came up to play and worked her butt off at the net to put the ball away and build momentum for us,” Hafner said. "It was a back and forth match and I’m glad we pulled through.”

New England outside hitter Sophie Olsonawski called shots from the back and was seemingly everywhere putting up two aces and 20 digs.

Reba Resner, Hettinger-Scranton head coach said the Nighthawks let too many little errors compile into bigger ones.

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“We moved well and fixed things along the way,” Resner said. “This is a building game for sure. The Tigers have some good attackers that we haven’t seen in some of the games we’ve played, so we have to figure out our block.”

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Hettinger-Scranton's offense celebrates a kill with a handshake.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

Heading into their next away game against the undefeated Trinity Titans, Hafner says New England needs to strengthen and tweak their communication, execution and confidence.

New England def. Hettinger-Scranton 3-1 (25-23, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18)

Team Leaders NE: Kills – 12, Messa Kuehl, 9, Hannah Frank, 5, Samantha Volk, Emma Olsonawski, 2, Sophie Olsonawski; Aces—2, Sophie Olsonawski, Maddie Rayhorn, 1, Volk, Emma Olsonawski, Molly Wolf; Blocks – 8, Frank, 5, Volk; Digs – 20, Sophie Olsonawski, 16, Kuehl, 15, Emma Olsonawski, 10, Volk, 9, Frank, 8, Wolf; Assists – 32, Wolf

Team Leaders HS: Kills – 12, Allyson Schalesky, 10, Sophia Kennedy, 9, Vanessa Oase, Laela Jensen; Aces – 2, Laela Jensen, 1, Schalesky; Blocks – 3, Jozee Erickson, 2, Schalesky; Digs – 29, Ella Jensen, 11, Laela Jensen, 8, Schalesky; Assists – 42, Chloe Geaumont

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New England Libero Leslie Anaya (orange) dives to save a corner shot.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press
READ MORE BY AMBER I. NEATE
DICKINSON — It was a bleak home game season opener for the Dickinson Midgets girl’s hockey team Dec. 2. Their heads hung low following a brutal 9-2 loss against West Fargo United. The opening day loss comes as the season starts and memories of last year's difficult 4-16 season are still fresh.

Amber Neate grew up in rural Skull Valley, Arizona. Her passion of covering sports of all types, including personal favorites wrestling, hockey, rodeo and football, began at an early age.

She obtained her Associate of Arts Degree from Yavapai Community College before attending Northern Arizona University for a three-year journalism program. While at NAU, Neate worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Lumberjack Newspaper as well as a hockey commentator for KJACK Radio.

Gaining her experience working for a small community paper, The Wickenburg Sun, as a general news and features reporter, her love for sports and a small-town community brings her to Dickinson to cover southwest North Dakota sports.

LANGUAGES: English
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