Corey's Corner 9/14

Posted 9/14/16 (Wed)

                One of the best parts of what we do is going to new places. And we had the opportunity to do that this past week here at the BEK Broadcasting Network. A pair of teams made their debut on BEK this season, as well as a whole new town for the new season. We start, though, in a familiar place: Bismarck, ND.

                Even though we were in the capital, it was a new high school gymnasium. The Saint Mary’s Saints played host to the Braves of Mandan. Great place for a game, even as the Saints get ready to move on to a new school. And we had a great game between two schools right down the road from each other. The first salvo came from the home team, as the Saints got in from first. They would go on to score the first point of the set pretty much all night long. But Mandan would answer back. Mackensi Higlin was a player that Saint Mary’s knew coming in they would have to slow down, but she shined in the first set. Four kills and an ace from her powered Mandan to a first set win.

                Then in the second set, the Saints answered back. They turned to their sophomore outside hitter Taylor Gerving, and she responded in a big way. She was a major contributor as a freshman last year, and the returning starter got in her rhythm in the second set. Gerving racked up five kills in this set alone. She got a ton of hitting opportunities, and this was the set where she really made the most of them. 25-19 the Saints knot things up at one a piece. After a first set that Mandan dominated, we have ourselves a ballgame.

                Off we go to the 3rd, and this was the most competitive set we had all day. The biggest lead was 3 for SM at 13-10.  Back-and-forth we went. Gerving was good again, joined by Kaitlyn Wanner and Emily Bichler. It was the Saints winning back-to-back sets to back Mandan into a corner in the 4th. And that was another competitive set, but the Braves were ready for a fight. Kennedy Harris, Megan Zander, and Emily Theten joined forces with Higlin to force a decisive 5th set. First time in the St. Mary’s gym for us, and first 5 setter of the year for me. Mandan started out strong, and finished strong. St. Mary’s gave it all they had, but the Mandan Braves emerged victorious in one of the most fun volleyball games we’ve had all year.

                Then we went to an all new city for me: Kenmare. It was a great atmosphere out in Honker country, they were excited for this game. We had a great meal South of the Border, and then it was game time. The Honkers of Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central welcomed in their rivals Mohall-Lansford Sherwood. These are the two dominant regional powers, and the winner of this one gets the inside track to a first round bye in the 9-man playoffs. And early on, it seemed like it would be the Honkers. MLS had dominated this series, but the games were always close. Until, seemingly, this one. After a scoreless first quarter, the Honkers put together three scoring drives to put up 18 2nd quarter points. They were denied on all three 2-pt attempts, and that would play a big part in the second half. But after a rainy first quarter, the Honkers decided to dry the football out through the air. Hunter Rodin has some of the best passing numbers in the state, but more importantly some of the best receivers as well. Kolton Jesz was able to make a number of in-air adjustments to the football to help his QB, and that skillset made all the difference on a number of big plays. Rodin also managed to connect with Jacob Rodin on a few big set ups. The brothers Rodin connected on a score, as well as a few bombs down the field. Cody St. Croix also notched a TD, helping his QB this time with a huge run after the catch. He spun away from a couple tackles, and he was gone. Senior RB Dax Nelson was the final piece of the puzzle for KBBC in the quarter (where they did all their scoring in this one) as he had a couple big runs and kept the Honkers fairly balanced in this one. They were feeling confident in the locker room at the half.

                Then, something changed. Whether it was MLS making an adjustment, the rain picking up again, or just football being football is tough to say. But the Mavericks figured it out in the second half. The third quartered opened with MLS down by 10. It ended with them up by six. They put together 16 unanswered points largely off the effort of Talon Thompson. MLS is a run first team, and they got away from that just a little bit in the second half. Isaac Undlin pitched in as well from the QB position, and Statler Olson and Zavure Frech each had their own moments to shine. The ground game was steady, rhythmic, and unstoppable for the Mavericks. These horses galloped to 24 straight points in the second half, while shutting KBBC out for the last 24 minutes. The Mavs continue to control this series, winning this one by about as much as the last three combined.

                Back to a familiar place but a new venue (this year): the MDU Resources Community Bowl. The Marauders of Mary were hosting the Vikings of Augustana. And Augie brought one of the best QBs in D2 to town in Trey Heid. A dual-threat QB with a cannon, he was near the top in the nation in pretty much every passing number. He simply was too much for Mary’s defense to handle. Combine that with a new offense for the Marauders going up against the very talented front of the Vikings, and this was going to be tough sledding for the guys from Bismarck. They showed a couple moments where they got it going, but the Vikings simply jumped on them early and never looked back. The running duo of Caden Quintanilla and Jackie Davis aided in the quick scoring effort. The Vikings won this one handily. Mary will get better with time, and we’ll have them later on in the year vs. the Beavers of Minot State.

                Finally, we head to Valley City. And once again, a place we’ve been to before, but a new venue for the action. The Graichen Gym was built in 1923, and now serves as the home of the Vikings volleyball team. That’s where we were as Valley City State took on Dakota State. In the preseason conference polling, Valley City was picked to finish 7th in the North Star, Dakota State 4th. But VCSU head coach Adam Longmore said he really liked the roster they had put together, and that it could be their best season in a while. Well, in the home and conference opener: seems like he’s right. The Vikings won this one in sweeping fashion, coming out with an amazing energy right out of the gate. Megan Johnson would rack up nine kills to lead the Vikings on the match, and she fired up her teammates early and often in set one. Jaycee George paced the defense, Hailie Wilds had a great service game. The Vikes took set one 25-12. They continued in the second set, and got a lot this time form the freshman Taylor Sharp. She would rack up seven kills on the match, and had some serious pepper on the ball. Behind Taylor’s sharp play, the Vikes took the second set 25-18.

The third set was a dogfight. Sharp would continue to play well, working her way towards that seven on the match. Clarissa Olson, Autumn Johnson, and Hailie Wilds also put their seventh kill on the floor here in the 3rd set. And despite the lucky 7’s, the Trojans wouldn’t go down quietly. Carly Rozell led DSU with nine kills, Clarissa Blick pitched in five, and Tessa Weeldreyer had four on the match. Each got their crack at it in the third. We got our 1st deuce in this one as well, and it was Dakota State who got the early leg up. But Valley City State finished strong, continuing a great game at the net and they emerged victorious. In their very first game in front of the hometown fans, the Vikings faithful in the City of Bridges went home happy. VCSU moved to 1-0 in North Star play. The Trojans meanwhile, have plenty of time to improve on their 0-1 conference record.

                And so ends a great week of travel on the BEK Broadcasting Network. Tune in next week to find out where we went this time. (Spolier alert, New Towns on the horizon)