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Raiders early game hustle falls short in 3-1 loss to Bowman County

Richardton-Taylor did their best to keep up with the Bulldogs, but a high powered offense would prove to much.

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Raiders fall to Bulldogs in 3-1 volleyball match on Thursday, Sept. 29.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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RICHARDTON, N.D. — A heated battle between two Region 7 volleyball teams commenced Thursday night in Richardton as the Richardton-Taylor Raiders and Bowman County Bulldogs did battle. Side-outs would be a momentum killer in the game, but narrow margins in the sets would see both sides fight down the stretch in a 3-1 competition (26-28, 25-16, 25-12, 25-21).

The Raiders (1-2, 1-3) proved to be a scrappy side winning a long and competitive 28-26 first set, but were met with a dominating response from the Bulldogs (4-1, 11-5) in the second and third sets. The final set was a close contest, but Bowman County found their winning lead midway through and never looked back.

“We couldn't get out of rotations quick enough,” Chelsie Evans, Raiders head coach, said. “I do think our serving was below par and we will definitely be working on that in practice. I always tell the girls that we can control what we do on our side and that is through our serving and through our defense and where we put the ball.”

Bulldogs head coach Phil Weldele knew coming into the game that the Raiders wouldn't be a push-over team, and acknowledged his team's poor serving as a contributor to the competitiveness of the match.

“When we watch [Richardton-Taylor] on film we really notice how much more they were hustling and playing together as a team and we knew it would be a battle,” Weldele said. “We are kind of a funny team, in that there are days we will serve well, but we won't pass well and then there are days we hit well and we won't serve well. If we ever put it all together, we could be really good, but right now we seem to be all over the place.”

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Raiders celebrating a kill.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The first set saw a lead change 12 times, with neither side willing to budge.

The Raiders had the largest lead in the set at the very beginning with an opening 4-0 run of points. Even though Bowman County held the lead for the majority of the set, Richardton-Taylor’s defense kept them from dropping below the two-point threshold to push the set to a decisive 25th point.

The Raiders did not carry their first set success into the second, having trouble on the serving line throughout. They gave up their two early leads in the set from side-outs and were never able to re-establish it. The Bulldogs offense took advantage of the lack of precision, going on several runs of points with deadly accuracy from their hitters and long rally wins.

Bowman County would continue down their war path in the third, taking their first lead 5-4 and would never relinquish it — going on a five-point run immediately after.

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Bowman middle blocker Ellie Powell tips the ball over the net.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“We were on a high from winning the first set and were kind of expecting them to just roll over and give it to us. What we needed to do was dig in,” Evans said. “Honestly I didn't think we were going into the second set with the right mindset… In the second set we had seven missed serves and it was 25-16. If we would have made those seven serves it could have been a different outcome.”

The fourth set was close with Richardton-Taylor fighting from behind and matching the Bulldogs in points three times — the last one being a tie at 15. Two long rallies and three serves resulting in side-outs would push Bowman County the rest of the way to collect their fourth regional win.

Despite having a rough night serving, the Raiders managed four aces coming from Jennavieve Schutt (2), Eastyn Gebhardt (1) and Neveah Baranko (1). The Raiders middle blockers Schutt and Baranko would also tally kills for their team; Branko led with nine and Schutt claimed four. Senior setter Gracee Kuntz had five kills, eight assists and eight digs.

“Our middles had a good night,” Evans said. “They showed up and if we got a good pass I tried to put it to our middles as much as we could because they were putting the ball away pretty good."

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Bowman County has kept busy on the season and have more competitions forthcoming. The Bulldogs are participating in the Lisbon-Enderlin Volleyball Tournament on Saturday where 24 teams will contest for the top spot, with each team facing a minimum of four opponents.

“I was really proud of the girls because we were still kind of tired from our tournament last Saturday and we did well to rise to the occasion when we got down a little bit,” Weldele said.

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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