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Even though the high school volleyball season has been in session for just over a month, Valley City High School's schedule had yet to match the Hi-Liners up against a team that brought the ball a bit harder than normal.
That was until Tuesday, when the Hi-Liners struggled at times to close the gap in a 25-20, 25-16, 25-20 loss to West Fargo in front of a loud student section at the Hi-Liner Activity Center.
"I think it was just the shock of finally playing a team that actually hit above our heads, that were jumping higher than us," VCHS coach Katy Van Dyke said. "When you see that for the first time, it's that shock of 'now what do we do?'"
In all but the middle set, the Hi-Liners kept it close but struggled to get the rallies needed to tie or take a late lead.
It looked good early, though, as the Hi-Liners started the match with a 6-1 run largely from play up front by Danica and Dierra Diegel.
The Hi-Liners got hits throughout their lineup and kept West Fargo from taking the lead until the score was in the double digits. The Packers took the lead on a misplaced hit to make it 14-13 and got the lead as high as 19-15 on a kill by Kennedi Sand.
Though the Hi-Liners kept the lead close, the Packers went on a late run to end it on an ace.
The second set was close for the opening few points, but after a block by Danica Diegel made it 3-2, West Fargo went on a 9-1 run to make it 11-4. Valley City struggled on both the serve and the attack, but got the lead down to 20-15 kate before West Fargo scored five of the last six point.
The third set started close, but West Fargo had a brief run to get a 6-3 lead. It was a lead that Valley City narrowed multiple times with short runs. Whenever Valley got a good run, West Fargo matched it with late play by blocker Christina Bruenjes.
Bruenjes led the Packers with 10 kills.
Van Dyke said as a result of the opponent, the team played "a step behind" both defensively and from a hitting perspective.
"Our hitters were a little bit shy and it showed out there," she said.
She said once the team started playing a quicker offense late in the game, it opened up hitting opportunities for Dierra Diegel, who led the team with 6 kills as sister Danica had 5.
Clarissa Olson led Valley City with eight digs and the play of libero Cassidy Wendler left Van Dyke pleased.
"When you have balls coming at you at 75 miles per hour and you can pick up a few of them that's good for a high school role player," she said. "It doesn't show on the stats but she really worked hard."
Minot State 3, VCSU 3
The Valley City State volleyball team struggled to finish its attack in a 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 loss to Minot State Tuesday in Minot.
The Vikings connected on only five kills in the first set and six kills in the final set with their NCAA Division II opponent. Aurissa Martens led the Vikings with seven kills and was one of two players, with Stephanie Miller, to finish with two aces.
The Vikings play at Jamestown College Friday night.
MVE 3, BCN 0
Maple Valley beat Barnes County North 25-16, 25-13, 25-17 in Rogers Tuesday.
Samantha Wieland led BCN with seven kills and Abby Undem had three. Stats were not available for Maple Valley.
LMM 3, BCN 1
Litchville-Marion/Montpelier beat BCN 25-13,23-25, 25-11, 25-15 Monday in Rogers.
The Rebels had little trouble from the serve, getting 11 aces from Tanys Ulmer and 9 from Shannon Opdahl. Ulmer also led her team with eight digs and had eight kills, one behind Rhandi Larson. Leah Bruse led the Rebels with 14 assists.
BCN was led by Kayla Erker with 10 kills. Samantha Wieland had four aces and 5 digs. Jayda Haugen had 19 assists and three digs.