Despite winning just two matches in a tournament in Bismarck to open the 2012 high school volleyball season, new Devils Lake coach Warren Michael believed his team was ready to make a statement in the Eastern Dakota Conference.
Instead, the Firebirds mentor took plenty of the blame upon himself after watching Devils Lake fall to Fargo South in the EDC opener for both schools on Tuesday at the Devils Lake Sports Center.
“I didn’t prepare them as well I should have,” said Michael after watching the Bruins sweep past Devils Lake 25-16, 25-23, 25-13. “We had a chance to scout (Fargo South) at the Bismarck tournament, but I did not have our defense in the right spots ... this one is surely on me.”
Fargo South, which improved to 1-0 in the EDC and 2-6 on the season, had little trouble from the outset. The Bruins built a 6-1 lead in the first set and were never seriously challenged as Devils Lake was unable to get any rhythm going on either side of the net.
The Firebirds appeared to recover in the second set, and sparked by the serving of senior standout Taylor Swanson, built a 6-2 lead in the early going.
The Bruins tried to rally and closed to within one point on two occassions, but Devils Lake was successful in holding the Bruins at bay.
But not when it mattered most.
After trailing 19-16 Fargo South scored four of the next five points to tie the set at 20-20. It was the first of four ties late in the set.
The Bruins secured the win when a tip at the net fell between two Devils Lake defenders as South gained the lead and then put the set away on an ace by Alyssa Skrove.
The 2-0 advantage in the match seemed to breath new life into the Bruins. They jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third set and went on to win the set 25-13 to end the match.
Macie Helten led Devils Lake with four kills in the match while teammates Morghan Carew and Swanson each tallied two kills. Just three Devils Lake players recorded blocks against the Bruins.
Madi McConn and Emily Stroup each had 10 kills to lead the Bruins.
“We didn’t swing the way I thought we would,” Michael said. “This game is all about ryhthm and we didn’t have that tonight.”
Alexa Gathman and Deidra Webster each recorded nine digs to lead Devils Lake in that department. Brianne Hunt and Swanson each added eight digs against the Bruins.
Warren remained optimistic that his team will respond.
“I know we will become a better team,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue working hard to improve. We’ve got to do a better job of getting to the blocks ... if we don’t it’s going to be a long season.”
Page 2 of 2 - Devils Lake (2-5) will play at Fargo Davies on Thursday.
Fargo South 25 25 25
Devils Lake 16 23 13
Kills: Fargo South — Madi McConn 10, Emily Stroup 10, Courtney Caspers 5. Devils Lake — Macie Helten 4, Taylor Swanson 2, Morghan Carew 2. Blocks: Fargo South — Katie Elness 1, Kelsey Elness 1. Devils Lake — Swanson 1, Alexis Longtin 1, Carew 1. Assists: Fargo South — Kaitlyn Anderson 12, Stroup 9. Devils Lake — Swanson 7, Sara Johnson 4. Digs: Fargo South — Alyssa Skrove 14, Nevada Wilson 8, Maddie Erickson 7, Stroup 5. Devils Lake — Alexa Gathman 9, Deidra Webster 9, Brianne Hunt 8, Swanson 8. Aces: Fargo South — Kaitlyn Anderson 4, Kelsey Elness 3, Skrove 2, Wilson 1. Devils Lake — Swanson 3.