Kenmare send Trinity to consolation bracket in state tournament after opening round win
The Titans fall to the consolation bracket after Thursday night’s defeat.
The Trinity Titans returned to the Class B state volleyball spotlight Thursday night for the fifth year in a row, looking to finally get over the hump and bring home their first state championship.
The stage was set at the Bismarck Event Center. The Titans, the No. 5 seed, met up with No. 4 seed Kenmare for the final game of the day in the tournament.
The game came down to the fifth set, with both sides making rallies throughout the contest, but it would be Kenmare who would prevail 3-2 to end the Titans’ hopes of a state championship.
At one point, Trinity were up two sets to one with an 18-13 lead in the fourth set. The Honkers had their backs against the wall and needed a big rally if they wanted to keep their season alive.
They did just that and engineered a 7-2 run to tie it at 20. Kenmare wasn't ready to quit just yet. Trinity took the lead at 21-20 and 22-21, but each time the Honkers responded with a big point to keep the Titans within their reach.
Their determination in the set ultimately paid off as Trinity made a couple of errors down the stretch that gave Kenmare life and eventually the fourth set to tie it up 2-2.
Libero Jada Erie mis-hit a serve down 23-22 to give the set point to the Honkers. Then, defensive specialist Victoria Keller hit a serve out of bounds that gave Kenmare a 25-23 victory.
The fifth and final set was close to begin, but Kenmare’s excellence at the net was on full display and took an 11-6 lead. It was 13-8 Honkers as Sisson called timeout to try and get one last rally out of her team.
But they would manage only one more point, falling 15-9 in the final set.
From being seven points away from the semifinals, to walking off the court knowing their chance at a state title was over, it was a crushing blow to the players and fans who made the trip to Bismarck.
Throughout the game both sides had to endure long rallies. With the season on the line, there was no quit on any point. Early on it was Trinity who would be on the winning end of the rallies, but towards the end, the Honkers had the momentum.
“With those longer rallies, whichever way the ball falls it seems like that team gains momentum,” Trinity head coach Breanna Sisson said. “When they don’t fall your way, you do a lot of work with little reward. After that you get a little exhausted but we stayed focused.”
Kenmare were led by middle hitters Brenna Stroklund and Amber Houck, who had a combined 29 kills. They forced the Titans to dig in more than ever, recording 84 as a team. Four different players had more than ten, with Erie registering a team-high 27. They also had 12 blocks as a team, compared to four for Kenmare.
“They have two amazing middle-hitters that work around our blocks,” Sisson said. “They forced our defense to really step up. I was happy with how scrappy we were playing. Getting a touch on the ball, our effort was there tonight.”
The third set had the largest margin, with Trinity taking it 25-15. Middle hitters Olivia Kessel and Ava Jahner were once again the primary source of kills, with Kessel having 18 and Jahner recording 16. Setter Kali Kubas had 49 assists.
Instead of facing Northern Cass in the semifinal round, Trinity will turn the other way and head for the consolation semifinals against Garrison. However, there is still plenty to play for in the next couple of days for the Titans.
“Our goal changes a little bit,” Sisson said. “We still want to have that winning record at state. There’s still a possibility of going 2-1 and that’s our goal from here on out.”
Trinity will have one more game after Friday’s contest, in either the fifth or seventh place game.
DT 25 21 25 23 9 - 2
KH 21 25 15 25 15 - 3
TRINITY TEAM STATS
Kills - Olivia Kessel, 18; Ava Jahner, 16; Bella Kovash, 9; Delaney Deschamp, Helena Pavek, 6; Kali Kubas, 1.
Digs - Jada Erie, 27; Kubas, 17; Jahner, 12; Jersey Erie, 11; Victoria Keller, Pavek, 5; Deschamp, Kovash, 3; Kessel, 1.
Assists - Kubas, 46; Deschamp, 6; Kessel, 1.
Blocks - Jahner, 6; Kessel, Pavek, 3.
Aces - Kubas, 3; Ja. Erie, Je. Erie, Kovash, 1.