Dickinson played host to a 16-team tournament this Friday and Saturday and experienced some much needed success in their own gym.
The Midgets reached the championship game of their tournament but fell to Class B region 1 side Northern Cass 2-0, but had one notable matchup against their rivals Trinity that came down to the wire.
Dickinson started strong in the final matchup against the Jaguars, but would slowly fall behind in points and confidence. They had an early lead in the first set that would dwindle to a tie game at 15 before Northern Cass would take it 25-23.
Dickinson's stamina seemed weary by the second set and fell behind 20-6. Seniors Reese Hauck, Staci Kempenich and Makenna Eckleberg were continuously vocal on the court, limiting miscommunication while encouraging their squad to fight back. They would have one last run of points before being dealt the final blow 25-14.
Before the final, they put on a tremendous performance against cross-town rivals Trinity in a three game set that was close throughout. They would prevail in three sets 25-23, 22-25, 15-13, to reach the final.
The tournament had 16 participants ranging from teams from North Dakota Class A & B, as well as schools across state lines in Montana.
The Midgets ended the weekend with a loss, but gained experience for rotated in players, testing options within their squad.
“We got to play six matches and we came in yesterday and got a lot of kids playing time, tried some different things,” Midgets head coach Jay Schobinger said. “Overall we were pretty proud of the kids and it was a good weekend.”
The tourney started Friday with four groups of four. Dickinson defeated all three of their opponents, Hebron-Glen Ullin, Baker, MT, and Beach 3-0. Middle hitter Jasmin Barry got her first varsity experience with 6 blocks and 13 kills on day one.
“Jasmin Barry got an opportunity to play this weekend a lot and did a pretty nice job for her first varsity experience,” Schobinger said. “Make some kills and kind of figure some stuff out in the middle, so once we get the middle more established, that will open it up more for our outside hitter Caton and Kuehl.”
Missing from their usual squad was senior hitter Taya Hopfauf, giving junior defensive specialist Baylee Berg a chance to perform in the back row. She accumulated 18 digs on the first day, and another 16 on day two. Hauck led from the back row with 46 digs on day two, tallying 20 against Trinity.
“She (Berg) did a nice job filling in with Taya Hopfauf away at a wedding this weekend,” Schobinger said. “We had some kids that got to hit in her spot in the front row and Baylee played back row. She got in a lot of reps and she did a nice job.”
Barry's presence up front gave Trinity trouble with five blocks and six kills. Caton Pearcy led the Midgets in kills with 12 and Kempenich contributed 23 assists and 10 digs.
Coach Schobinger said that the matchup against the Titans was the most important for his team to learn from and was an example of how he wants them to play in any matchup.
“We are trying to get our kids to understand how much emotion and how much passion that they have to play the game with and how much it really helps them,” Schobinger said. “Yes, it can be exhausting, but for five or six points in a match it has to be worth it. So we need to get to that point all the time.”
The defeat to Northern Cass was less than ideal, but the six games played opened more possibilities for the Midgets and the rest of their season.
“Anytime you play a tournament you are going to have some ups and downs but we had a lot of really good things,” Schobinger said. “We are very fortunate that we got some good senior leaders … Reese and Taya all year (have been vocal) and with Taya gone, Reese had to step it up and she has done that. She has done a wonderful job.”