Denholm's All-Around Effort Leads Hi-Liners Past Bruins

On the Valley City High School volleyball roster, junior Jessica Denholm is listed simply as a setter. It's not only her primary position, but one that she's plenty experienced at.
But, as Fargo South found out in the Hi-Liners' 27-25, 25-21, 25-16 win Tuesday at the Hi-Liner Activity Center, labels can be misleading.
Denholm not only put together 28 assists for Valley City but also provided seven kills and 1.5 blocks up front, six aces from the service line, and seven digs around the court.
"How about those blocks she had?" Valley City coach Katy Van Dyke said after the match.
It's a set of skills Van Dyke said came as a result of need last season.
"Last year I had to use her as a front row player every once in a while," "This year, we've had people to come into that spot and worked hard over the summer, but it's always nice."
Van Dyke said Denholm still works on her front row skills at practice, so when the Hi-Liners were missing two starters and a key reserve Tuesday, Denholm worked the setter position, but also played at the net as the team found ways to make up for the absences.
The end result was 44 total kills, split relatively balanced, in the three sets.
The win guarantees that Valley City will host an EDC play-in match, though another win over Red River Thursday or Fargo North next week could help the Hi-Liners avoid a play-in match.
Early on, the teams played it close.
Valley City started the match with a 3-0 run and later got it up to 5-2. As the set progressed, the Bruins came back, tied it at 7-7, then had a rally to go up 12-8 before Denholm set the ball over the net for a point.
The Hi-Liners continually whittled away the lead, eventually going up 16-16 on a kill by Denholm. After South took an 18-17 lead two points later, the Hi-Liners went on a 5-0 run, which was countered by South, who tied it up 22-22. Valley City eventually scored four of the last five points to end it 27-25.
In the last two sets, though, Valley City got runs that helped put the match away.
In the second set, Tonya Van Dyke found her serve following a kill by Dierra Diegel that made it 4-3.
An ace made it 5-3, then the Hi-Liners had kills from Madison Taylor, Clarissa Olson, Deigel, and a four-hit violation on the Bruins to go up 10-3. Although South made efforts to come back, narrowing the lead to as few as two points, the Hi-Liners never let them and had three straight points to end it. A block by Van Dyke was the final point.
In the third set, the Hi-Liners went up 8-2 early, but allowed Fargo South to come back. and tie it at 11-11. Shortly after, the Bruins took a 14-13, which was tied on a kill by Denholm.
Denholm then got the ball back for the serve and kept it awhile as the Hi-Liners scored seven straight points off her serves, a streak that included three aces, to make it 21-14. The Hi-Liners allowed only two more points the rest of the match.
Taylor led Valley City with 10 kills and was followed by Jasmine Stevens with nine, Deigel with eight and Denholm with seven. Libero Cassidy Wendel had 17 digs and was helped by Olson with 14.