Valley City High School sports fans already had plenty to look forward to in the coming week with the Hi-Liner football team set to play for a spot in the AA state championship game.
But Tuesday, the VCHS volleyball team added another item to the school's playoff agenda — a home match to start the Eastern Dakota Conference tournament.
The Hi-Liners, who lost 25-17, 25-16, 25-17 to Fargo North Tuesday in their regular season finale, will host Devils Lake in an EDC Play-In match, coach Katy Van Dyke said after the loss. A time and location for the match will be announced later this week.
"We are hosting a play-in match, which is absolutely fantastic, and like I told the girls, we expect to get past the play-in match and then we have some tough matches ahead of us," Van Dyke said. "There's no reason we can't be one of those top teams going into those matches in regionals."
Tuesday's loss provided somewhat of a playoff atmosphere as a loud student section spent the majority of the match on their feet and vocal. In turn, the Hi-Liners played a largely defensive game, forcing the Spartans to make plenty of errors and keeping the sets close.
It was success that Van Dyke measured partially based on how few timeouts she called, limiting to a maximum of one per set, leaving the match largely uninterrupted.
"I told them 'I don't want to have to coach during a match. It's not my job to coach during a match because by the time I'm done with practice, you should be able to go on the court, have fun, and play'" Van Dyke said. "They did that tonight."
The defensive effort was a necessity as the Hi-Liners put a large emphasis on stopping Spartan senior Kira Larson, who has verbally committed to the University of Nebraska.
Though Larson had plenty of kills, 17 total, many of them came later in the match.
Instead, the Spartans relied on other options such as Abbi Duncan early.
The Spartans went up 9-3 early in the first set, the Valley City worked it back to 9-7 before a four-hit violation gave the ball back to North.
The Hi-Liners had kills from Dierra Diegel and took advantage of North's hitting errors to keep it close.
The crowd even went into a frenzy when Clarissa Olson came up with a key block to narrow the lead to 19-15. It was of two blocks Olson finished with in the match.
The Spartans eventually put the first set away by scoring five of the last six points.
The second set was played similarly, with the Spartans breaking away and scoring six of the final seven despite a close match early.
North got ahead 7-2 early in the third set, and never let the five-point lead dwindle, eventually finishing the match on a spike by Larson.
The only weakness Valley City showed was setting up the offense. Diegel and Jessica Denholm each had five kills, the highest on the team.
Despite Larson finishing with 17 kills, Van Dyke was pleased with the defense.
"The nice thing was that we stopped Kira a few times, and I think that kind of surprised her," she said. "That's how we practiced, to get ready for her and the rest of the team."
A large part of the effort was play by Olson, who had her two blocks and was one of two players, along with senior Cassidy Wendler, to finish with 15 digs.
"Claire had a very well played match," Van Dyke said. "She had the blocks, which was awesome, but she just never let that ball drop unless she was going after the ball, and that is so nice to see."
In addition to the loud crowd, the team also recognized seniors Cassidy Wendler, Kara Kohler, Mariah Olstad, Jasmine Stevens and Tonya Van Dyke, as well as their parents.
The team also helped raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, donning black t-shirts with pink designs during warmups. Players also wore pink accessories such as head and arm bands, as the referees used pink whistles for the match.
Pep Rally planned
Valley City High School will be hosting a pep rally Friday for the school's football and volleyball teams.
The rally will be held at 3 p.m. at the Hi-Liner Activity Center and public attendance is welcome.
The VCHS football team is scheduled to play in the AA state semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday in Grafton. The VCHS volleyball team will be hosting Devils Lake in an EDC play-in match at a time to be announced.
VCSU V-ball Named No. 6 Seed in A.I.I.
The Valley City State University volleyball team will be the No. 6 seed in the Association of Independent Institutions' conference tournament next month.
The tournament, which is hosted by Mayville State, starts with pool play Nov. 9, when the Vikings take on No. 3 Ashford at 11 a.m. They follow it up with a match against No. 2 Jamestown at 3 p.m.
The top two teams in each pool advance to semifinal matches starting at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 10, with the championship set for 7:30 p.m.