Blue Jays recognized by WDA, team is 'playing to win' at State

Nov. 16—JAMESTOWN — The 2023 All-WDA Volleyball Team came as a huge surprise to Jamestown High School junior Leah Trumbauer.

"I was so surprised and honored to be named All-WDA because there are so many great volleyball players in our conference," Trumbauer said. "In the off-season, I participated in JO's (Junior Olympic volleyball), went to camps, did individual workouts, weight training and played with friends and family (but) my teammates and my coaches have all helped me get to this point."

Trumbauer was one of four named to the 2023 All-WDA volleyball team. Makenna Nold, along with Edie Hegerle, was named to the First-Team All-WDA team while Kinley Anderson racked up second-team honors. Trumbauer was named to the first team.

"My sister, Katie, and I have always shared a love for volleyball together whether it was playing downstairs using the couch as our net or peppering in the backyard," Trumbauer said. "I was so excited to tell her (about All-WDA) and she was so proud of me."

Katie, a JHS Class of 2022 grad, was a three-year varsity team member for the Blue Jays. In her senior season, she was named to the 2021 First-team All-WDA and All-State teams.

"Coming into the season I was unsure of how successful we might be," Trumbauer said, "I knew that we had lost a lot of great players from last season but I knew that the returners had worked hard in the off-season to improve and gain confidence. The newer players really stepped and that really helped us to get to where we are."

It was three games into the regular season that Trumbauer realized how good the Jays actually were.

"After winning in four at home against Century I had a great feeling that we could compete with any team in the state," Trumbauer said.

It turns out they really could.

The Blue Jays breezed through the rest of September without dropping a set. The Jays' first four-set match since they defeated Century on Sept. 12 came against Dickinson on Oct. 2.

At the annual Scheels Invitational Volleyball Tournament in early October, the Jays went 5-0 against schools out of the Eastern Dakota Conference to earn a spot in the Gold Bracket Championship.

Sioux Falls Washington defeated the Jays 2-0 in the tournament title game and three days later Bismarck Legacy got the best of them, topping the Jays 3-2.

The pair of losses didn't keep the Blue Jays down. Instead, they got better.

Edie Hegerle, Sara Sletto and Makhal Rowell have all eclipsed 200 digs this season which has helped the Blue Jays' offense become more dynamic and aggressive.

The defense has also improved on its out-of-system play which means lose or off-target balls often find a way back over the net and result in points.

Up front, Nold is right around 20 kills every match while Trumbauer is accounting for at least seven every match. Kinley and Kendyl Anderson are also getting set in the middle averaging six and four kills respectively. On the right side, Addison Marker is notching five kills per match.

From the back line, the Jays have four players who are averaging more than one ace per match.

The Jays pulled out seven straight wins to finish out regular season play. Jamestown's 19-1 WDA record clinched the team's first regular-season title since 2012. The Jays were the No. 1 seed entering the WDA tournament last weekend.

Jamestown breezed past Bismarck St. Mary's in the opening round of the tournament, defeating the Saints 3-0. In the semifinals, the Blue Jays took four sets to defeat Bismarck High to send the team through to its ninth WDA championship match in 13 years.

The Jays met up with Century in the WDA finals. The Patriots defeated the Jays 3-0.

"I think Saturday was especially tough on us because we all knew that we didn't play to our potential," Trumbauer said, "I think the nerves kinda got to us and we were playing not to lose. At State, we just need to play our game and play to win."

In an interview following the WDA championship match, Hegerle said she thought the team got quiet on the floor and got a little mixed up defensively. The head coach said in practices, the team has been working on communication and correct defensive positioning to ready themselves for the last tournament of the year.

The Jays are slated to face Fargo North in the opening round of the tournament. The two teams will face off at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Fargodome.

The Spartans lost one game this regular season — a five-setter against West Fargo on Sept. 12.

While pretty much unbeatable throughout the regular season, North wound up dropping to West Fargo Sheyenne in the EDC tournament semifinals. The loss sent the Spartans to a state-qualifying match against West Fargo. The Spartans defeated the Packers 3-2 to pick up the EDC's No. 3 seed.

"I am so excited to play in the Fargodome," Trumbauer said. "I remember watching my sister play in the state tournament there and it made me want to have that same experience. To be able to play in that atmosphere at the state tournament with my teammates has been a dream of mine ever since I started playing. I just wanna give a shout-out to all my amazing teammates and coaches who have made this season so unforgettable."