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Titans slain by Knights in Consolation Semifinal

“They played a notch above us tonight and came out with confidence,” Breanna Sisson said.

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Titans middle hitter Olivia Kessel put up 15 kills and 11 digs for Trinity at the Consolation Semifinal in Bismarck Friday.
Josiah Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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BISMARCK — The Trinity Titans picked themselves up with motivation and grind November 18 and held their heads high going into the Consolation Semifinals against the Our Redeemer’s High School Knights at the Bismarck Event Center. After falling to the Kenmare Bowbells in the State Quarterfinals, the Titans were striving for redemption and an opportunity to claim the 5th place title but the Knights booted them out of the way.

Both teams pushed through five closely contested sets, but Trinity’s service errors and long shots out of bounds cost them two sets in a row, allowing Our Redeemer’s to glide by with a 3-2 triumph.

Trinity faced Our Redeemer’s at the start of the season in the Coal Country Invitational where the two finished in a tie. The Titans challenged the Knights again in October and beat them 3-1 in an away game.

Our Redeemers have made it to eight Regional Championships and are led by coach Kara Nunziato who has been with the team for 10 seasons. The Knights have a season record of 27-12-2. The Titans finished their season with a slightly better record, 32-7.

Aubrey Griedl, Knights 6’2” senior middle hitter, was a major force for Our Redeemer’s. Her power and tall block forced the Titan’s offence to nail shots around her. Knights outside hitters Maya Vibeto and Kiera Biberdorf were also instrumental on offence, planting the ball in Trinity’s far back corners. Most notable for the Knights was junior setter Allie Francis who tallied 6 aces in the game.

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The Our Redeemer's Knight mascot even made an appearance at the Consolation Semifinal.
Josiah Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The Titans energy and speed looked promising in the first set. They utilized all of their hitters and picked up a 3-point lead early before the Knights tied the score at 7. Titans blocks into their own net and pockets left open in their back-right corner put the set in jeopardy for Trinity. Neither team gained separation until the end of the set when Trinity turned up the heat on a 4-point drive to steal the match 25-22.

Throughout the game, middle hitter Ava Jahner had to pull Trinity out of gaping score deficits. The Knights routinely shut her down with blocks at the net. In the second, Our Redeemer's scored six straight points that were not immediately answered by the Titans. Trinity racked up three service errors, missed the ball on low or sharp drives and had to chase the ball more than once in their back court.

“I think we came out a little flat and just had trouble getting ahead from there,” Jahner said. “We struggled to go on runs and had some communication errors that hurt us.”

Titans setter Delaney Deschamp and Jahner paired well together under pressure, timing their shots carefully for digs and kills. On attacks, Trinity overshot several spikes, which further increased the score deficit. The Knights put up four points in a row to close the set with an 11-point lead.

“They played a notch above us tonight and came out with confidence,” Breanna Sisson, Titans head coach said. “They weren’t afraid to swing. I think on our side of the net, we were playing a bit timid…we were wanting to be a little bit too perfect with the ball and sometimes that just leads to more errors.”

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Titans outside hitter Bella Kovash jumps to send a spike over the net.
Josiah Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Set three was just as bleak for Trinity as they continued to lose momentum and swing in panic. Our Redeemers gained full control of the match and threw Trinity out of system. When the Titans tried to move things in a different direction, the Knights were quick to adapt.

Vibeto actually dislocated her shoulder in the third, popped it back in herself and carried on playing for the Knights. Trinity continued to build up their force on the front line but left their back court open with patchy coverage. Olivia Kessel found a comfortable line of attack and helped close the score gap for the Titans, but it wasn’t enough to gain a lead on the set. They were however able to bounce back in the fourth, with three served aces by senior defensive specialist Nevaeh Muckle. The score tied eight times before the Titans took the set.

“It was a hard-fought match,” Sisson said. They have great hitters that know how to place the ball. We were back on our heels most of the night and we just needed to come out swinging.”

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Trinity had an advantage in the first set and pulled through for a victory, then trailed behind until the fourth.
Josiah Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The Knights asserted dominance in the fifth and jumped into a 5-point lead. A sneaky back set by Francis put Our Redeemers one point away from winning the game and they were able to score again before Trinity had a chance to retaliate.

“Today might not have gone how we planned, but we still played hard and gave it our all,” Kessel said. “Our Redeemer's came out with great serves and energy. Now, we focus on tomorrow and play our hardest to end the season in a positive way.”

The Titans will progress to the Consolation Final for the 7th place title against Garrison High School November 19.

Class B State Championship Semifinals Results:

Consolation Semifinals:
Our Redeemer’s High School def. Trinity 3-2 (25-22, 14-25, 19-25,25-18,6-15)
Team Leaders THS: Kills – 21, Ava Jahner; 15, Olivia Kessel; 8, Bella Kovash; 7, Helena Pavek; 6, Melissa Zach; Aces – 3, Nevaeh Muckle; 1, Zach; Blocks – 2, Kessel, Pavek; 1, Jahner, Kovash; Digs – 22, Jersey Erie; 13, Jahner; 11, Kessel; 9, Serenity Pavlicek; 6, Kovash; 4, Muckle; Assists – 52, Delaney Deschamp

New Rockford-Sheyenne def. Garrison High School 3-2 (23-25, 26-24,23-25,25-19,15-7)

Semifinals:
Linton/HMB def. Thompson High School 3-2 (18-25,17-25,28-26,25-20,15-13)

Northern Cass High School def. Kenmare/Bowbells 3-1 (25-16,25-19,26-28,25-16)

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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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