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'I can't fault our effort': Dickinson concludes season with a hard-fought loss to Williston

Enjoying what seemed to be a comfortable advantage towards the end of the third set against Dickinson, Williston volleyball head coach Rachel Hansana was well aware of the Midgets' ability to counterpunch.

Dickinson High sophomore outside hitter Jayce Bradley delivers a kill during a WDA Play-In match against Williston on Thursday, Nov. 1, from the Dickinson High Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High sophomore outside hitter Jayce Bradley delivers a kill during a WDA Play-In match against Williston on Thursday, Nov. 1, from the Dickinson High Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

Enjoying what seemed to be a comfortable advantage towards the end of the third set against Dickinson, Williston volleyball head coach Rachel Hansana was well aware of the Midgets' ability to counterpunch.

Both teams split the opening two frames, but that was not without the other team slicing into a sizable deficit, late.

Down 22-15 in the third, Dickinson quickly put up the next three points before Hansana called a timeout.

"What I said in the timeout was to keep your head strong," Hansana said. "The main focus was to keep our heads on a swivel, watching that ball consistently and not getting too excited, yet. They had to stay focused on the game and concentrate on the job with lots of communication while limiting our errors."

When the players returned to the floor, Dickinson added another point before Williston tallied the final three points, taking the frame. The Coyotes captured an exhilarating fourth set, earning a 25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23 victory over the Midgets during a WDA play-in match on Thursday, Nov. 1, from the Dickinson High Gym.

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With the victory, the No. 9 Coyotes will participate as the lowest seed in the bracket as they host the West Region Tournament next week, while Dickinson's season comes to a close with a record of 13-22.

It is the first time in the last four years that the Midgets were not victorious in a play-in match.

"Slow start, but I thought our kids played hard and got after it. When you lose two sets 23-25, 23-25, the difference between winning and losing is just a little bit," Midgets head coach Jay Schobinger said. "Williston had that little bit tonight, but I can't fault our effort. They went out and battled, played hard; we'd get down and battle back, and that's kind of how it's been all season. It's been a test all season for these kids and it makes me pretty darn proud of the way they've handled everything they've had to deal with."

In the fourth set, Dickinson held a slim 15-13 lead before Williston (9-26, 4-16 West Region) jumped ahead with a 5-0 run capped by an ace from senior defensive specialist Jolyssa Marquart. The Midgets answered with a 5-0 surge of their own, as a block from junior outside hitter Taylor Nelson, a block from junior outside hitter Peyton Selle and a pair of aces from junior middle hitter Audrey Rodakowski pulled the home team back in front.

The frame was tied at 23, but a Dickinson net violation and a kill from junior middle hitter Rachel Anfinson gave the Coyotes the match.

"Oh my goodness, I can't stand still," Hansana said after the victory. "They kept me on my toes, but they fought so hard. My heart was going insane the whole game, it could've gone either way."

In the opening frame, Dickinson (13-22, 6-14 West Region) was slow out of the gates, falling behind 10-3 before Schobinger signaled for time. With the score at 21-14, the Midgets started chiseling into the gap and eventually tied the set at 22. However, Williston earned three of the next four points, concluding with a kill from senior setter Lauren Fearing.

The Midgets were the ones in front during the second set, holding a 21-15 lead. Williston answered with five of the following six points on the scoreboard, but Dickinson closed out its only frame win with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Jayce Bradley.

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"Jayce came in and did a really nice job," Schobinger said. "Early in the season, she would hit for us on the outside, but the big thing was that she had to figure some things out defensively. But tonight, I thought she played really well for us offensively and did a nice job."

Bradley, who led all Midgets with 11 kills, credits her teammates for allowing her to excel.

"It showed a lot, tonight," Bradley said. "They accept you and it makes you more comfortable playing. I play better because of that."

In their final matches in a Dickinson High uniform, senior defensive specialist Madi Eckelberg and senior Lauren Jorda each had strong showings. Eckelberg led the team with three aces and added nine digs while Jorda paced the Midgets with 30 assists.

Junior hitters Taylor Nelson and Audrey Rodakowski were a big presence at the front of the net, combining for eight blocks. Junior libero Kendryn Bullinger was solid in the back line, contributing with a team-high 28 digs. Junior Peyton Selle added seven kills and 20 digs.

"We, as coaches, are very, very proud to say that we had an opportunity to work with this group of kids," Schobinger said. "Maybe we didn't always get the wins or results on the floor, but to see how they handled the whole season, I'm pretty darn impressed."

Williston 3, Dickinson High 1

W 25 21 25 25 - 3

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D 23 25 19 23 - 1

Kills: D, Jayce Bradley 11; Peyton Selle 7; Audrey Rodakowski 5; Taylor Nelson 5.

Blocks: D, Nelson 5; Rodakowski 3.

Aces: D, Madi Eckelberg 3; Rodakowski 2.

Digs: D, Kendryn Bullinger 28; Selle 20; Taya Hopfauf 13; Eckelberg 9.

Assists: D, Lauren Jorda 30.

Records: W, 9-26 (4-16 West Region). D, 13-22 (6-14 West Region).

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOLDICKINSON MIDGETS
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