Nov. 1—HEART RIVER — As the shadows have gotten longer and the snow is starting to fall, area volleyball teams are seeing their regular seasons come to a close, with two local teams — Heart River and Beulah — closing out their 2023 calendars in solid fashion. The Cougars left pawprints on Beach in a straight-sets, 3-0, win while the Miners dug in against the Bison with a 3-1 victory of their own.
The win leaves Heart River and Beach in the bottom-four of the Region 7 table at 3-7 and 0-10, respectively, and the two teams will require a play-in game that will be hosted on Friday at sites to be determined. Meanwhile, the top-four teams get a bye into the Region 7 Tournament and that leaves a prospective eight total teams who make the playoffs out of the 12 who represent Region 7 after the play-in games have been scheduled, played and decided before the tournament begins at Killdeer High School on Nov. 6..
As for Tuesday's area matches, Beulah will be the number-two seed in the region and receive a by and Hazen is currently situated at seventh-place and will likely be hosting one of the play-in games on Friday, Nov. 3.
By scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-13, the Heart River Cougars (6-19-2 overall) blanked the Buccaneers with the help of 17 assists from senior setter Molly Robb and 4 aces from senior outside-hitter Jamie Buckman — with 3 more from Robb and 2 from senior middle-hitter Abby Talkington — while Talkington led the way in kills for the team at 6. Buckman had 5 kills of her own and added 6 digs on defense to go along with 7 digs from Talkington and 6 more from Robb, while junior middle-hitter Makena Pavlicek led the team in blocks with 2.
For Beach, the young squad was led in stats by freshman setter Aubrie Dykins's 5 assists, and 4 kills from seventh-grader Mila Szudera, 4 digs from junior setter Emma Bieber, who also contributed a trio of aces from the service-line.
The Miners had to come from behind after dropping set #1 14-25, but then dominated in thrilling fashion to take 25-16, 25-20 and 25-13 wins the rest of the way. Beulah (18-6 overall) was paced by an excellent 33 assists from senior setter Graysen Connolly and 6 team aces, including a pair from senior defensive specialist Daviney McKay, from the service-line. Senior middle-hitter Shae Barron got into double-digits in kills with 16 to go along with middle-hitting classmate Brooklyn Tuhy's 14 and 8 more from junior outside-hitter Laisha Martens.
On defense, Barron co-led the team in blocks with 3 and the Miners got 3 more from Tuhy, while the digs department was led by an amazing night from senior libero Savana Filibek and her 24, while McKay had a divine night with 16 of her own.
For the Bison (5-6, 11-9 overall), senior setter Anna Roth had 13 assists to lead the way and held the co-lead in aces with 2 along with senior defensive-specialist Chloe Pepperling. Kills were led with 7 by junior middle-hitter Emily Erhardt and her middle-hitting classmate Tokala Sage, while on defense Sage had a career night in blocks with 13. The team-high in digs was led by Pepperling and Erhardt, who had 8 apiece.
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