Region 7 volleyball is always filled with talented athletes, and next year, two of them will don a Dickinson State uniform.
Farrah Zeller, of the back-to-back Region 7 champion Dickinson Trinity team, and Elissa Steffan, of Killdeer, recently signed to compete for Blue Hawk Volleyball next year.
"I wasn't really thinking about it until two weeks before I signed and I just couldn't comprehend the feeling of not having volleyball anymore," Zeller said. "So, I reached out to the coach and she was interested. I wasn't really expecting it, but it just happened."
Steffan and the Cowboys were the No. 6 seed going into the Region 7 tournament last November. They defeated No. 11 Mott-Regent to advance to the quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual second-place finisher, Bowman County (25-21, 25-21, 25-18).
Steffan, a 5-foot-6 outside hitter was a defensive specialist. Against the Bulldogs, she posted a game-high 16 digs and contributed one kill and two aces.
In 2017, her first year under head coach and sister Allison Sampsel, Steffan hit the 1,000 digs milestone.
"She's super talented," Dickinson State head coach Jennifer Hartman said. "She plays middle back defense, so that's definitely harder. It's more of a read position than a reaction position."
Killdeer went 9-9 in 2018, holding steady in the middle ground of the region.
Zeller was also a phenomenal two-way player in her high school career. In the three-set championship victory over Bowman County (25-9, 25-19, 25-17), the 5-foot-5 outside hitter earned a team-high nine kills, while adding a contest-high four aces, as well as six digs.
"She said she really likes defense and I think she's super talented at defense, but I also think she's very athletic and has a really good vertical," Hartman said. "For her height, she plays big at the net. So, we're excited about signing her."
Zeller understands her height doesn't make her the ideal presence up front at the college level, so she said she expects to be a defensive specialist and, perhaps eventually, a libero.
"I could hit in high school, but when you go to college, there are way taller girls," Zeller said. "I can hit, but blocking is more of an issue for me when it comes to them. I just don't have the height for it."
Both Zeller and Steffan will fill gaps in the Dickinson State roster left by graduating seniors.
Alli Hert and Makenzie Digesualdo were both defensive specialists, while Brianna Holland was a setter, and Kylie Hadley was an excellent two-way player.
"We're looking for a back row player and obviously we need an outside hitter going into this season, too. We signed one from California, so that helps there," Hartman said. "We had a middle and an outside transfer at semester from two D-II schools, so that's helped out a lot."