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Titanic blockade: Rivals meet for the second time in the postseason

BELFIELD -- During the first two sets against Dickinson Trinity, the Heart River volleyball team had quick starts, taking early leads in the frames. By utilizing their speed around the floor and a devastating block up front, the Titans clinched t...

Dickinson Trinity sophomore middle hitter Abbey Kubas (left) and senior outside hitter Masy Kuntz (right) combine for a block against Heart River on Friday, Oct. 26, from Belfield High School. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity sophomore middle hitter Abbey Kubas (left) and senior outside hitter Masy Kuntz (right) combine for a block against Heart River on Friday, Oct. 26, from Belfield High School. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
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BELFIELD - During the first two sets against Dickinson Trinity, the Heart River volleyball team had quick starts, taking early leads in the frames.

By utilizing their speed around the floor and a devastating block up front, the Titans clinched the top seed in the upcoming Region 7 tournament, sweeping the Cougars 25-12, 25-14, 25-10 on Friday, Oct. 26, from Belfield High School.

Dickinson Trinity improves its record to 33-5, including 11-0 against regional opponents, while Heart River falls to 20-13. Each team has one match left in the regular season.

"We knew we were going to play a competitive game. We knew that Heart River has done very well against other top teams in our region," Titans head coach Breanna Sisson said. "We definitely came mentally prepared tonight and to get a win on the road is huge, especially this late in the season. We see improvements every day in practice, and then to apply those into games, it's very nice sit back and watch those players progress."

Heart River senior McKenzie Buckman opened the match with a three straight aces, energizing the Cougar fans in attendance. Trailing 5-2, the Titans went on a 7-0 run highlighted by kills from sophomore middle blocker Abbey Kubas and senior outside hitter Farrah Zeller and a combo-block from Kubas and sophomore middle hitter Amaya Willer.

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As part of a 5-0 run later in the frame, Kubas combined with senior outside hitter Masy Kuntz on a block, giving the Titans an 18-9 advantage they would not relinquish.

"What most stood out tonight, I think, was just being big at the net," Sisson said. "We had a good, solid block up on all of their attackers. Our hitters were working around their block. I think it was intimidating, but we kept strong at the net."

At the start of the second set, the Cougars scored the first two points before Dickinson Trinity again went on 7-0 run, capped by a pair of powerful attacks from senior Bre Tessier.

With senior Alexa Walby running the show to the tone of 30 assists, the foursome of Kuntz, Zeller, Willer and Tessier racked up 33 kills.

"We communicated really well and we just played our tempo and game, we didn't go to their level," Tessier said. "We just tried to play our best game and it ended up pretty well."

After the Titans lead stretched to 11-3, Heart River found its footing. Senior outside hitter Katie Keator completed a mini 3-0 run with a kill from the left side of the net, closing the gap to 11-6. Often out of system in the opening frame, the Cougars did a better job of digging out strong Trinity attacks.

Junior outside hitter Afton Shypkoski collected seven digs while sophomore defensive specialist Campbell Clarys had six.

"Our defense was really good tonight," Heart River head coach Tessa Sian said. "Even though our front row wasn't quite use to the speed, but the defense was ready and could get hands on balls. It's just tough when you give a team like that has ball control like that so many free balls, but our back row did a great job of moving. ... It was a real team effort."

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In the third frame, Dickinson Trinity was in command from the start, building a lead as great as 3-3 before cruising to the victory.

Prior to the match, Keator and Buckman, along with senior middle hitters Emily Hlebechuk and Natasha Baranko, were recognized as part of senior night festivities. The former three were joined by family members on the floor while Baranko was not in attendance as she is out of town for the National Future Farmers Association Convention and & Expo in Indianapolis, Ind.

"I knew everyone who is here and it was nice to have people come and support us," Hlebechuk said. "I was happy that my parents were here and we really appreciate having our coach here with us. It was kind of upsetting that Tasha couldn't be here, but it was good. We are all really close and we all get along really well. We are basically family at this point."

Dickinson Trinity 3, Heart River 0

DT 25 25 25 - 3

HR 12 14 10 - 0

Kills: DT, Masy Kuntz 14, Farrah Zeller 7, Amaya Willer 6, Bre Tessier 6, Abbey Kubas 4. HR, Afton Shypkoski 4, Emily Hlebechuk 3, Laken Jacobson 3.

Blocks: DT, Kuntz 2, Am. Willer 2, A. Kubas 2. HR, Laken Jacobson 1.

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Aces: DT, Asia Willer 2, Ali Daniel 1. HR, McKenzie Buckman 3.

Digs: DT, Zeller 9, As. Willer 8, Alexa Walby 5, Tessier 5. HR, Shypkoski 7, Campbell Clarys 6, Jacobson 3.

Assists: DT, Walby 30, Kali Kubas 2. DT, Buckman 10.

Records: DT, 33-5 (11-0 Region 7). HR, 20-13 (7-4 Region 7).

Related Topics: HEART RIVER COUGARS
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