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Wildfire use strong first set to fuel sweep of Night Hawks

Mott-Regent chose the most opportune time to pick up its first win against Hettinger-Scranton this season. Winless against the Night Hawks in two previous meetings, the Wildfire utilized a blistering 25-8 first set to set the tone in their eventu...

Mott-Regent senior Maddi Johnson, right, lofts a ball over the reach of Hettinger-Scranton senior Madi Warbis on Monday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Mott-Regent senior Maddi Johnson, right, lofts a ball over the reach of Hettinger-Scranton senior Madi Warbis on Monday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

Mott-Regent chose the most opportune time to pick up its first win against Hettinger-Scranton this season.

Winless against the Night Hawks in two previous meetings, the Wildfire utilized a blistering 25-8 first set to set the tone in their eventual sweep of Region 7's No. 2 seed on Monday at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

"The last time we played them it was really, I don't know, we just weren't quite together, but now we're really playing as a team and playing as one," said Mott-Regent's senior setter Sabrina Kienzle, speaking of a 3-1 loss on Oct. 18.

The win sends Mott-Regent in the semifinals against Hazen today.

The seventh-seeded Wildfire, who defeated Bowman County last Friday in a play-in match, pulled off the upset in the quarterfinals thanks in part to a strong effort at the service line. Kienzle tallied five service aces and senior outside hitter MaLynn Kautzman notched six.

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Most of Kienzle's damage came as the Wildfire ripped off an 11-0 run with her serving in the first set, which turned an 10-5 advantage into a 21-5 avalanche leading to a 25-8 win.

"The aces that Sabrina served really helped us take the lead and the momentum, and we just pulled it through for all three sets," said Mott-Regent head coach Aryn Hansen.

The second set was markedly closer after the Night Hawks scrambled back into things after trailing 17-12. Hettinger-Scranton got the score back to within a single point on two occasions after that but was unable to ever take the lead. Mott-Regent escaped with a 25-22 victory.

"(The first set) kept us going," said Kienzle, who had 20 total assists. "We were coming into this knowing we had to fight and getting that first win with such a big gap, it was nice because it kept us fighting until the end."

The third set saw the Night Hawks take a 10-9 edge before the Wildfire won the next six points to go ahead for good. Hettinger-Scranton didn't get closer than three points the rest of the way.

"Hettinger-Scranton's a tough team. They were rated No. 2 for a reason," Hansen said. "They're tricky and we knew we had to adjust because they go short to deep (with shots) and we adjusted."

Senior Andrea Klein led the Wildfire with 10 kills, and MaLynn Kautzman and Ellie Messmer backed her up with seven and six kills, respectively. Senior Maddi Johnson had four blocks to lead all players.

Senior Tayler Burwick had 10 assists for Hettinger-Scranton, and junior Molly Holt led with six kills. Senior Brianna Robinson had eight digs.

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Mott-Regent 3, Hettinger-Scranton 0

MR 25 25 25 - 3

HS 8 22 18 - 0

Kills: MR, Andrea Klein 10, MaLynn Kautzman 7, Ellie Messmer 6. HS, Molly Holt 6, Alyssa Andress 5, Brianna Robinson 3, Madi Warbis 1, Tayler Burwick 1.

Blocks: MR, Maddi Johnson 4, Kautzman 1, Messmer 1. HS, Holt 1.

Aces: MR, Kautzman 6, Sabrina Kienzle 5.

Digs: MR, Katuzman 6, Messmer 5, Jenaya Manolovits 5. HS, Robinson 8, Callie Anderson 4, Abbie Kludt 3, Burwick 3.

Assists: MR, Kienzle 20, Bree Friedt 2. HS, Burwick 10, Anderson 6, Briana Sanford 2.

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