The annual Dickinson High volleyball tournament featured 25 teams from differing classifications across North Dakota and Montana. While the number of programs participating in the two-day tournament was smaller compared to previous years, the competition displayed at Dickinson High School, Dickinson Middle School and the West River Community Center remained compelling and at times, intense.
The best example of this fierce action came in the final match of the silver division in which Hettinger-Scranton squeaked by Billings Skyview (Mont.) 25-22, 27-25 on Saturday, Sept. 22.
The Night Hawks led the majority of the second set, but could not extend beyond a four-point advantage. Leading 24-21, it seemed Hettinger-Scranton would have enough in the tank to hold on, but Billings Skyview went ahead for the first time in the frame after scoring the next four points.
Looking to thwart the Falcons run, Night Hawks head coach Ria Eaton called a timeout and was pleased with her players' response in the huddle.
"I just love this team, they don't give up," Eaton said. "They're the team that walks into the timeout, they look at me and go 'Coach, we got this.' That's what I need, confidence."
With a third set looming, sophomore middle hitter Samantha Oase helped regain control. Oase leaped in the air and delivered a monsterous kill into open space to tie the frame. She followed that with a smashing attack off the head of a Falcons player attempting to land a dig.
When a Skyview attack landed just out of bounds on match point, the Night Hawks exploded into celebration.
"I'm just thinking that I'm ready to hit this ball hard," Oase said of her approach toward the end. "I want to get a kill right now and my team needs me to get a kill right now, so I just wanted to get the team a win."
Oase finished with six kills while junior hitter Alyssa Andress contributed with seven kills and 11 digs. Senior setter Abbie Kludt had five assists and five aces. Junior libero Carolyn Schultz led the Hettinger-Scranton defense with 18 digs.
In the bronze division final, Glasgow (Mont.) pulled away late to capture the opening frame before dominating the second set, earning victory against New England 25-17, 25-14.
"We were excited to play them again because we played them in our pool and felt like we played them a little tougher," Tigers co-head coach Kay Moody said. "Unfortunately, we didn't play at our ability level, but give Glasgow credit; they were ready to go."
New England opened their day with an early-morning comeback victory over Hazen. Relinquishing the first set 25-15, the Tigers took the next two 25-18, 15-11.
The team in orange and grey had little time to enjoy they victory, having approximately 10 minutes to prepare for its next opponent in Beach. Behind the play of hitters Jersey Binstock, and Elizabeth Kaufman, New England swept the Buccaneers, 25-21, 25-17.
Binstock led the Tigers with four kills and 10 digs while Kaufman contributed with three kills and eight digs.
"It's hard to come out early in the morning," Kaufman said. "We had a rough start, but after that first match, we really picked it up and had a lot of fun."
The gold division final featured familiar foes as Billings West (Mont.) challenged Billings Central (Mont.). After taking the first set 25-15, Billings West outlasted a Billings Central charge, finishing off the Rams 25-20 and earning the sweep.
Sporting a point-differential of plus-133 through the tournament, the Golden Bears went undefeated through seven matches.
"We played (Billings Central) a couple of times throughout the summer and last year was actually a rough run with these girls against these guys. That kind of fueled them a little bit," Billings West head coach Monica Grimsrud said. "They just really wanted to come out, take the tournament and beat Central. They played really well."
Before meeting the Rams, Billings Central defeated Dickinson Trinity 25-20, 25-20. Going 3-1 on the day, the Titans ended the day was victories over Sidney (Mont.) 25-12, 25-20 and Oak Grove 25-22, 25-16.
Dickinson Trinity finished with a plus-88 point differential through eight matches.
"I was really happy with how we played," Dickinson Trinity head coach Breanna Sisson said. "We stepped up when we needed to and definitely surprised ourselves with how well we played at times. We definitely had our lows as well, but we were able to dig out of those holes and overcome some of the weaknesses we experienced throughout the tournament. My overall impression: I thought we had a phenomenal tournament."
Playing in three three-set contests on Saturday, host Dickinson High got off to a sluggish start. Midgets head coach Jay Schobinger thought his players lacked energy in a loss to Sidney 19-25, 25-17, 15-9.
But after dropping the opening frames to Custer County (Mont.) and Minot Our Redeemer's, the Midgets bounced to back in each match. Dickinson first got by the Cowboys 19-25, 25-23, 15-7, and later conquered the Knights 20-25, 25-23, 15-13.
"We were better, but we've got to be a little more consistent," Schobinger said. "At times today, our (energy) was much, much better, but like I said, we have to find some consistency."
Gold Division Final
Billings West (Mont.) 2, Billings Central (Mont.) 0
BW 25 25 - 2
BC 15 20 - 0
Kills: BW, Madeline Dawson 7, Megan Benton 5, Emily Johnson 4, Shauna Stene 4, Ellie Scherffius 3, Taylor Graham 1, Jessica Ostwalt 1.
Blocks: BW, Stene 1, Johnson 1, Scherffius 1.
Aces: Dawson 2, Ostwalt 1, Stene 1, Scherffius 1, Kinzee Koch 1.
Digs: BW, Koch 12, Dawson 8, Ostwalt 7, Molly Nault 5, Stene 2, Paige Smith 2, Graham 2, Scherffius 1, Johnson 1.
Assists: BW, Ostwalt 10, Graham 8, Benton 2, Koch 2.
Billings Central stats were not available
Records: BW, 14-5. BC, N/A.
Silver Division Final
Hettinger-Scranton 2, Billings Skyview (Mont.) 0
HS 25 27 - 2
BS 22 25 - 0
Kills: BS, Bella Bryan 7. HS, Alyssa Andress 7, Sam Oase 6.
Blocks: BS, Jordan Olson 2.
Aces: BS, Adina Taylor 2. HS, Abbie Kludt 5.
Digs: BS, Kamille Reynolds 9. HS, Carolyn Shultz 18, Andress 11, Kaitlyn Jahner 10.
Assists: BS, Bryan 9. HS, Talia Carter 6, Kludt 5.
Records: BS, N/A. HS, 18-5-1.
Bronze Division Final
Glasgow (Mont.) 2, New England 0
G 25 25 - 2
NE 17 14 - 0
Kills: NE, Jersey Binstock 4, Shelly Kathrein 3, Elizabeth Kaufman 3.
Blocks: NE, Angel Erickson 1, Emily Dinius 1.
Aces: NE, Binstock 1, Kaufman 1.
Digs: NE, Binstock 10, Erickson 8, Kaufman 6.
Assists: NE, Dinius 12.
Glasgow stats were not available
Records: NE, 7-17. G, N/A.