Corey's Corner 10/12

Posted 10/12/17 (Thu)

               Sometimes, our schedule takes us all across the state of North Dakota (or even outside of it!) But this week the Eastern part of ND has been the focus, and that’ll continue in large part the next few weeks. Although there was one notable exception, this look back begins in Colfax, ND as the Richland Colts volleyball and football team played host.

               On the court, the Colts welcomed in the Hankinson Pirates. The Region 1 rivals took the floor with regional standing on the line in the super-regional format. And the Colts came in like it was already a postseason game. Kaitlyn Wagner, Kennedy Flaa, McKenzie Breden, and Katy Erickson each had at least three kills in the opening stanza. Wagner also got her service game going in the 1st, and that set the tempo for her throughout the night. Richland took the first two sets 25-14, and the final 25-19. McKenzie Breden finished the game even stronger then she started, as the Colts had to weather the Pirates comeback bid in the 3rd. That attempt was led by Jasmin Mauch and Kya Mauch. Olivia Prochnow did some nice things as well, but it would be a 3-0 victory for Richland.  The Pirates have some very talented individuals, but they are still a young team looking to string together successes.

               We stay in Colfax and head to the gridiron as Richland took on the Region 3 champs: the NGS Imperials. Richland had already been eliminated from playoff contention, and so they wanted to play spoiler on the undefeated season of Napoleon. However; Ethan Kleppe notched a long TD on 4th down, Garrett Jangula got going defensively, and Colten Jangula ripped one down in double coverage. A missed snap on a punt would eventually set NGS up by three scores, and they wouldn’t look back. Gavin Reiland did bring home a big one from Cole Myers. But in the second half, the very first play was a 54 yard Jake Bitz touchdown. NGS showed why they are undefeated, and they very much looked the part of a team that’ll be receiving a bye in the upcoming 9-man playoffs. They got the win and their undefeated regular season. Meanwhile, Richland will return the same group next year as there are exactly zero seniors on this Colts squad. That type of continuity can make you good fast.

               We stay out East but head further South as we venture to Wahpeton, ND for a matchup featuring ND rivals: the NDSCS Wildcats against Dakota College-Bottineau. The only two teams in the Western Division of the MCAC went at it, and it turned out to be a defensive battle. Even though these are two top-flight offenses, this thing came down to a few key possessions. The first possession ended in a punt for each team, before the Wildcats started moving the ball with some pace. However, a blow up screen by DCB lead to an interception on the tip drill by Trent Postma. The short game was not there for NDSCS all day, the speed of the DCB D was on display all day. But they NDSCS defense responded, and then we got our first offense. On the first play from scrimmage, Kingston Myles took one to the house from midfield.

               DCB would respond just two drives later, setting up a touchdown to Quay Harvey with a 61-yard bomb to Devious Brooks. The TD by Harvey would not be his biggest play of the day, but more on that later. Late in the half, NDSCS left some meat on the bone. They got a very short field after a botched punt, but ended up settling for a FG attempt that would be blocked.  Not the last time special teams would play a role. But first, a pair of rushing touchdowns by Jackson Argoe set up DCB in the driver’s seat in a big way nearing the end of the game. Argoe and company just missed on a few deep shots as the Wildcats crept up to slow Eli Todd & DeRante Sanders. Still, they finished three drives, and that would be enough. The Wildcats would make a great comeback bid though, with touchdown passes to Damari Wilson and Kyle Fowlkes. A defensive stop later, and the Cats had their chance. So NDSCS had the ball down two, trying to win The Log and retain the conference lead. But Quay Harvey stepped in front of a pass, and his INT would be the play of the game. Malik Gaillard played well for the Wildcats, and it wasn’t even a bad pass by him. But an outstanding individual effort by Harvey got the Jacks the win.

               Eventually, we would back West. And so we returned to Bismarck for one of the biggest volleyball games of the year: the #1 Jamestown Blue Jays against the reigning champion Century. When these two met up in the Buffalo City, it was a 3-0 win for the Jays. But this was a different Century team that has gotten better and better, and they showed it. In the first set, it initially seemed all Jamestown. But at the midway point, the Patriots came back in a big way. Lauren Ware got off to an outstanding start, as the 6’4” Sophomore made her presence known in a big way. Jordan Weeks also paced the Century attack, as they did mount their 1st half comeback.

               In the 2nd, #1 bounced back. Alyssa Ukestad, Courtney Peterson, and Megan Gaffaney reminded the fans in Bismarck just why this Jamestown attack is dangerous and so versatile. It was a tight set early on, with Century riding the joy of that 1st. But then Jamestown took over in the middle portion and made it a best of three. The 3rd and 4th set were both extremely close throughout, with neither team able to get out in front by much. But it would be just enough, for both teams. In the 3rd it was Megan Anderson picking up the Century offense, and she would have a masterful performance the rest of the way. Century got the 3rd. In the 4th: Gaffaney, Ukestad, and Peterson combined to score points in a variety of ways and so it was Jamestown in the 4th. So we head to the 5th and final. And it served as a microcosm of the game. Century got out in front first, as Megan Anderson made a couple plays but then had to head out due to an injury. Jamestown bounced back again, scoring four straight to tie it up at seven. Then Jamestown got going on a 5-2 run. Century timeout, they get on a 4-1 roll. All even at 13. Zero degrees of separation comes down to a big player making a play. And it was Lauren Ware who opened the game, and shut it down. Julia Fitterer provided a massive spark for Century, and she was great. But it was Ware who ended it, and bookended the game with bigtime sets. Century won it, and the season series would be split. A game as great as advertised, and may very well happen again down the road. We’ll see.

               Finally, we head back out East for some college volleyball as the Vikings of VCSU take on the Trojans of Dakota State. And this one too was a doozy. And much like the top two teams in the WDA, this VCSU offense was multi-pronged. Taylor Sharp lead the way with over double digit kills, but her and her teams were very much tested in the city of Bridges. The first set, Dakota State had a set point that would be yoinked away by VCSU. Then the second set was a resounding comeback by DSU with a big time late run, and the Vikings got their own big late run in the 3rd. So the Vikings got up 2-1 and were looking to close things out in the 4th. They had a 21-16 lead and seemed like they were going to win in four. But Sami Zell and Carly Rozell were outstanding with their backs against the wall. They came back to get a 24-22 lead. VCSU had their own micro run and forced a set point, but Dak St. would not be denied. So we head to the 5th, and the Vikings got their revenge. They started and finished the 5th strong, and they got the win. Autumn Johnson and freshmen Ellie Winter were the crux of the Viking attack and kept them afloat in the later stages. Clarissa Olson and Paige Benson also got near double digit kills, and VCSU held serve in a very competitive North Star.