Trinity defeat Bowman County for fifth-straight Region 7 title
No one has been better at volleyball in Region 7 in the last half-decade than the Trinity Titans.
The 2021 Region 7 volleyball championship saw third-seeded Bowman County take on the top seed Dickinson Trinity in Hazen for a shot to advance to the Class B state tournament in Bismarck.
Trinity’s road to the final began against No. 8 Hazen in the quarterfinals and then No. 4 Glen Ullin-Hebron in the semifinals. Bowman County went through No. 6 New England in the quarters and No. 7 Hettinger-Scranton in the semis, who upset the No. 2 seed Beulah.
It was everything you would expect in a game with the season on the line; loud, energetic, intense, and emotional. Despite the far drive for Bowman County, the stands were packed on both sides as the Titans looked to continue their dominance in the region.
The first set proved to be the most entertaining, with Trinity engineering a stunning comeback that would spark their performance on the night. Once they settled in, it was business as usual for the Titans as they defeated the Bulldogs 3-0.
It’s a feeling that has become normal for Trinity volleyball, advancing to state and winning the region title. The win Thursday night marked their fifth consecutive Region 7 title.
But early on, the Titans found themselves in a sizable deficit. From the opening serve, the intensity was felt throughout the gym. Every point seemed vital with a trip to state on the line.
Bowman County came out the more aggressive side, putting pressure on the Titans back line with multiple aces. The lead was as large as nine at 20-11 with the Bulldogs looking to make a statement.
Trinity never wavered. They’ve been in this spot before as reigning four-time champions in the region. Their experience was on display as they slowly worked their way back into the set. They cut their deficit to 21-16, then 23-20, before Bowman County got within a point of taking the first set.
With their backs against the wall, the Titans rallied off a quick 4-0 run to tie the set at 24, but it wasn’t the last time they would be on the brink of an opening set loss. Needing to win the set by two, Bowman County were at set point on three different occasions, 25-24, 26-25, 27-26, but each time the Titans drew level.
A block by Ava Jahner gave Trinity their first lead of the set at 28-27, followed by another point as they took the set 29-27 after their chances of an opening set win looked bleak early on.
“We had some nerves coming out,” Trinity head coach Breanna Sisson said. “We have some young girls who haven’t been in this situation before. Our seniors led us through that. We’ve shown a lot of resiliency throughout the season and I’m glad they were able to apply that to the first set. It wasn’t easy to come back from that far down but I’m just glad we stayed strong and stayed consistent and were able to pull that first set out.”
After the dust settled, the Titans went back to work in the second set, taking a 13-7 lead to remind the Bulldogs why they were the top seed in the tournament.
“We came out that second set with a little bit of a different mindset,” Sisson said. “We were still aggressive. We made some aggressive errors but we were able to clean it up and really put it away.”
The execution was crisp, the defense was solid, and the kills kept on coming as they took the second set 25-20.
“Sometimes taking your eyes off the scoreboard for a little bit and refocusing on what you can do for that next point is all you need,” Sisson said. “That resiliency that we have seen through the season, we’ve been able to put that into our game.”
Within one set of reaching the state tournament for a fifth year in a row, Trinity put to rest any hopes of a comeback with a 25-14 win in the third set as the celebrations began on the court for the Titans. Chants of “We’re going to state!” echoed throughout the gym from the Trinity student section.
With the season on the line, Sisson stuck with her star players who delivered in the biggest moment. Jahner was the main source of points for the Titans, registering 21 kills on the night. Assisting most, if not all of them, was senior Kali Kubas with 43. Sophomore Olivia Kessel contributed ten kills.
Kubas also led in digs with 13, but senior Victoria Keller and sophomore Jersey Erie both had 13, helping keep the Titans out of trouble.
Kubas, Jahner, and Kessel were all a part of the all-region team announced after the game, with Sisson taking home coach of the year honors in the region.
With just three seniors seeing regular playing time, the Titans have relied upon a number of underclassmen this season, including sophomores Helena Pavek and Delaney Deschamp, in addition to Jahner, Kessel, and Erie. Freshman Bella Kovash has also been a part of the starting lineup throughout the season.
“The youth and the lack of experience that we had at the beginning of the season and just seeing their growth really makes this one special,” Sisson said. “There’s a lot of girls that stepped into this tournament with wide eyes, but they buckled down and proved they can handle this type of pressure.”
The eight region champs across Class B volleyball make up the field for the state tournament, which will be held at the Bismarck Event Center beginning on Nov. 18. The eight teams will be ranked by the head coaches of each team, with the top five earning a seed to determine their matchup. The remaining three teams will be randomly selected with this schedule to follow -
Class B Quarterfinals, Nov. 18 (all times CST)
#2 seed vs random draw, 1:00 p.m.
#3 seed vs random draw, 3:00 p.m.
#1 seed vs random draw, 5:00 p.m.
#4 seed vs #5 seed, 7:00 p.m.
TRINITY TEAM STATS vs BOWMAN COUNTY
Kills - Ava Jahner, 21; Olivia Kessel, 10; Helena Pavek, 7; Delaney Deschamp, 6; Bella Kovash, Kali Kubas, 3.
Assists - Kubas, 43; Kessel, Deschamp, 2; Jersey Erie, 1.
Digs - Kubas, 14; Victoria Keller, Je. Erie, 13; Jada Erie, 11; Jahner, 6; Kessel, Kovash 3; Deschamp 1.
Blocks - Kubas, 1; Kessel, Kovash, 0.5.
Aces - Ja. Erie, Kubas, Kovash, 1.
Hitting Errors - 26
Service Errors - 6