Sep. 14—DICKINSON — Dickinson State University Blue Hawks started conference play with a loss at home, falling to the Valley City State University Vikings 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-16). They exhibited defensive prowess over their competitors, but struggled to get their offensive truly started. The Vikings had 47 kills in the three set match, while the Blue Hawks completed less than half that number with 20.
The North Star Athletic Association conference has four (of their six) teams receive national votes, two of which are ranked in the
NAIA Top 25, of Sept. 12
. Meaning every match this season will be a battle for the Blue Hawks.
"[Before the game] I talked to the team that we needed to come out and play our game," Shari Hewson, DSU head coach, said. "To be offensively aggressive, move the ball around and get all of our hitters going all together."
The Vikings opened the scoring in the first set and went on four multi-point runs to take a 19-8 lead. Mardi Scutchings led the charge with 8 kills, finishing the match with 11. The Blue Hawks had 4 kills, with the majority of their points coming from errors on the Vikings' behalf.
The first game did not represent the resilient nature that Dickinson State possessed in the remainder of the match. In set two, they managed to hold a three-point lead, before the Vikings inched their way to a tie game at 15. The Blue Hawks secured a late 17-16 lead, but it would not come to fruition as Valley City recorded a 9-point run to clinch the set. VCSU's Emma Lucas capped the second set with 4 kills.
The Blue Hawks scored first in the final set, with Hewson encouraging a comeback from the sideline. They took the lead twice in the early stages, but a VCSU 6-point run would keep the two separated for the remainder of the game.
"In the second game we came out and everyone was on the same page," Hewson said. "There is not really one specific person. Everyone was being aggressive and attacking and then it just came down to the end of the game, pushing and not being afraid to lose."
DSU's junior middle blocker Brooklyn Wyllie had the most balanced performance on her side with two solo blocks and assisted on another. She also tied sophomore opposite hitter Makyah Albrecht for most kills, with five apiece. McKenzie Moser, junior outside hitter, had four kills and 28 total attacks and had two solo blocks. Senior outside hitter Haydin Henschel led the team in digs with 10.
Dickinson State will be defending their home court, inside the Scott Gymnasium, next Friday against Mayville State. Hewson restated that their offense will need to improve to earn a conference win.
"Realistically, what it was we were not being offensive enough," Hewson said. "We were giving them easy chance to have three hitters every single time and so with that it made our defense work twice as hard because they have options every single time."