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'We wanted to play for the seniors': Midgets fall short in inspired effort against Bismarck

All season long, the Dickinson High volleyball team has started its matches with a poster hanging behind them on the bench. The poster reads 'Our Final Chapter' with a photo of senior defensive specialist Madison Eckelberg on the left and senior ...

Flanked by their families, Midgets senior setter Lauren Jorda (left) and senior defensive specialist Madi Eckelberg (right) are recognized at mid-court on before their Senior Night contest against Bismarck High on Thursday, Oct. 25, from the Dickinson High Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Flanked by their families, Midgets senior setter Lauren Jorda (left) and senior defensive specialist Madi Eckelberg (right) are recognized at mid-court on before their Senior Night contest against Bismarck High on Thursday, Oct. 25, from the Dickinson High Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

All season long, the Dickinson High volleyball team has started its matches with a poster hanging behind them on the bench.

The poster reads 'Our Final Chapter' with a photo of senior defensive specialist Madison Eckelberg on the left and senior setter Lauren Jorda on the right. With their final season in the Midgets volleyball nearing a close, the upperclassmen were honored at midcourt prior to the team's match against Bismarck High on senior night.

"It was really emotional, it was hard not to cry," Eckelberg said. "Senior year just goes by so fast, it's just crazy. It's just weird, you never think it's going to be you up there, and then all of a suddenly, it's you."

Joined by family members on the floor, the duo prepared a speech that was read by the public announcer, reflecting on their careers and moments with their teammates while thanking all of their supporters.

"We put some of our memories into it so it was fun to hear the team laugh at the little side-jokes we made," Jorda said. "All the memories, all the times in the gym, the times we spent traveling on the buses, it all just came rushing back. So it definitely was emotional, but we know we've made life-long friendships because of it."

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When action on the floor got underway, the rest of the Midgets played for their seniors, putting forth one their best efforts of the season against one of the better teams in the WDA. The Demons swept Dickinson 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 on Thursday, October 25, from the Dickinson High Gym.

"That was the bottom line: they started to compete, they started to believe," Midgets head coach Jay Schobinger said. "We didn't by any stretch put a complete set together, but we're getting closer and closer. Bismarck is a quality team and I think we saw the confidence grow as the night went on."

After winning the opening set, Bismarck took a 6-4 advantage in the following frame after an ace from senior defensive specialist BreAnn Sullivan. Dickinson won the next point by showing it's grit.

Junior libero Kendryn Bullinger made a one-handed diving dig that travel well beyond the boundary. Jorda scrambled and chased down the ball before junior Madi Lindley, who was out of bounds facing the back wall, saved the possession with a long-distance volley. Demons senior outside setter Michaela Dora mishandled the first hit, resulting in the loudest cheer of the night.

Bullinger, who started the mayhem, led the Midgets with 21 digs while junior outside hitter Peyton Selle had 12.

"Kendryn and Peyton were all over the floor," Schobinger said. "You saw Peyton flying out and getting some one-armed digs, Kendryn coming out of nowhere; I thought those two did a nice job, defensively."

The Demons pulled ahead as far as 22-15 in the set, but Dickinson came charging back. Capping a 5-0 run, junior outside hitter Taylor Nelson and junior middle hitter Audrey Rodakowski combined on a block, closing the gap to 22-20. Rodakowski earned another block before the frame Bismarck earned three of the next four points.

"They was obviously some tension and that feeling that we could be beat this team, we just have to find a way to get it done," Rodakowski said. "Also, this was our last home game, we wanted to play for the seniors, we didn't want to disappoint them."

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Finishing with a team-high four aces and a game-high eight blocks, Rodakowski said her performance was inspired the ladies in maroon.

"It's honestly the opponent," Rodakowski said. "(Junior outside hitter Olivia) Dickerson, I feel like if she gets in your head one time, she's just going to change the game on you, she's just going to start tipping. ... I just really wanted to stay focused on getting up at the same thing they did. If you're too slow, they are going to hit right over you and that's what happened at the beginning of the game. All of a sudden it started clicking and when I saw her hand, blocks, blocks, blocks."

Dickinson trailed 18-12 in the third set, but again, the Midgets made a push. The home team tied the game on a Bismarck hitting error and took the lead when Demons junior middle blocker Callie Stonecipher hit a shot out of bounds. Bismarck recovered though, scoring the final four points to take the match.

"Honestly, I have no idea how we prevailed, we looked pretty slow tonight," Bismarck head coach Josette Timian said. "It was tough to keep our pace of the game under control. After we tried speeding things up that were in system and slowing things down that was out of system, we were able to do better and put more points away."

Bismarck High 3, Dickinson High 0

B 25 25 25 - 3

D 17 21 22 - 0

Kills: B, Macy Wetsch 10, Michaela Dora 8, Callie Stonecipher 7, Olivia Dickerson 5, Faith Wahl. D, Taylor Nelson 8, Peyton Selle 7, Lauren Jorda 4.

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Blocks: B, Stonecipher 4, Dickerson 1, Wetsch 1. D, Audrey Rodakowski 8, Selle 1, Nelson 1.

Aces: B, Wetsch 5, Dora 2, BreAnn Sullivan 1, Dickerson 1. D, Rodakowski 4, Selle 2, Taya Hopfauf 1.

Digs: B, Sullivan 15, Morgan Fisher 10, Madysen Mosolf, 7, Dora 7, Wetsch 5, Dickerson 4. D, Kendryn Bullinger 21, Selle 12, Jorda 6.

Assists: B, N/A. D, Jorda 18.

Records: B, 22-9 (12-6 West Region). D, 13-19 (6-12 West Region).

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOLDICKINSON MIDGETS
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