With two game win streak, DSU volleyball looking for more
In mid August, before their season had even started, both players and coaches of the Blue Hawks' volleyball team agreed -- Tuesday's game against Presentation College was a must win.
In mid August, before their season had even started, both players and coaches of the Blue Hawks’ volleyball team agreed - Tuesday’s game against Presentation College was a must win.
In its first North Star Athletic Association matchup of the season, Dickinson State traveled to Aberdeen, S.D., and took a five-set thriller from the team that did the same thing to them in last year’s NSAA playoffs.
The win was a breath of fresh air; an accomplished preseason goal and a signal that all that work in practice had finally yielded something tangible.
Now, after winning another emotional five set game last Friday at home on “Stanton Strong Night,” a game dedicated to the late Dan Stanton, head coach Jen Hartman hopes the modest two-match win streak after a 1-9 start is a sign of things to come.
“It’s hard to stay bought in when you’re losing so much, but we just worked very relentlessly on keeping with the process, with where we’re headed and where we want to go,” Hartman said. “I’m just proud of the way they’ve been resilient and stuck with it through tough times. It makes you really appreciate when you do win.”
For how much the win against the Saints meant on Tuesday, look no further than junior Shaylee Singleton.
Last season, playing as an outside hitter, she spiked the game-clinching point for Presentation into her own net, dropping the volley and the fifth set, 15-13.
With that final play in the back of her mind this offseason, Singleton, now a libero, got her own little version of payback Tuesday, tallying two aces, four assists and 20 digs in what Hartman called “an amazing game.”
“On a personal note, it felt really good,” Singleton said. “The feeling of redemption really hit me in that game. It felt good to come as a team and win that game. Coming out with a win in five sets just like the last game was like a whole different flashback from last year.”
The Blue Hawks mini renaissance could not have come at a better time - with 15 of their final 19 games coming against conference opponents, good play over the next month and a half could make up for a poor first third of the season.
The immediate schedule, however, doesn’t get any easier, with the NAIA’s fifth-ranked team in Viterbo scheduled at 6 p.m. today in the Scott Gymnasium.
So what caused the improved play as of late? When the season started, 11 of the 20 players on the roster were stepping foot on DSU’s home court for the first time. Now with a month and a half together, there has been more opportunity for chemistry to improve, said junior outside hitter Brenna Hansen.
“Our practices have been more intense. I think everyone is more ready for this new rotation we have going,” she said. “Our team has been coming together more, everyone is just working really hard and doing what they have to do. It’s really helped after these last two wins and with practices too, I think everyone is just really excited right now.”
As for the immediate future, and the tall task directly ahead of them, the plan is to treat Viterbo like any other team, not the fifth-best team in the country.
“Obviously they’re a very good team, but we just told them that we need to compete,” Hartman said. “We need to play our game, we need to play it to the best of our ability, rise to the occasion and not play scared. That’s the basic type of mentality that we’ve tried to go into every game with.”