By Ray Maloney
Journal Sports Editor
Devils Lake, like most teams this season, has found that challenging Fargo Shanley can be a daunting task.
The Firebirds went toe to toe with the Eastern Dakota Conference-leading Deacons for much of the opening set, but in the end Shanley proved to simply be too much.
The Deacons defeated the Firebirds in straight sets on Tuesday at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Shanley won the match 25-13, 25-11, 25-13.
The win improved Shanley to 14-1 in conference play and 18-7 on the season. Devils Lake, meanwhile, dropped to 0-16 in conference play and is now 4-22 on the season.
The Firebirds got on top of the Deacons by scoring the first two points of the match as the return of the opening serve by Devils Lake was misplayed by the visitors. Shanley fell behind even further when the Deacons committed an attack error on the next volley before finally getting on the scoreboard with a tip at the net by Haley Brenner.
Devils Lake would hold the lead just once more on the night when a block by Taylor Swanson and Alexis Longtin went off a Shanley player and out of bounds to put the Firebirds in front 3-2.
The Deacons were unable to put the Firebirds away until Miranda Allex served up four straight points that saw Shanley extend its lead from 17-11 to 21-13 in the first set.
The second set began with Shanley scoring the first five points as the Deacons rolled to the victory in the set and then put the match away with a solid performance in the third set.
Longtin tallied four kills to lead Devils Lake in that department while Maddie Eriksson added three kills. Macie Helton and Morghan Carew each chipped in with two kills for the Firebirds.
Sarah Johnson led Devils Lake with seven assists and a team-high three service aces to go along with five digs in the match.
Carly Mickelson netted eight kills to lead all players. Haley Brenner and Alivia Fraase each added seven kills for the Deacons.
Allex, who sparked the Deacons in the first set, finished the match with eight service aces on the night to lead all players in that category.
Devils Lake will play at Wahpeton on Friday and will close the regular season on Tuesday at home against Fargo Davies.
The Eastern Dakota Conference tournament is scheduled to be played Nov. 9-11 at Fargo Davies.
Fargo Shanley 25 25 25
Devils Lake 13 11 13
Fargo Shanley — Kills: Carly Mickelson 8, Haley Brenner 7, Alivia Fraase 7, Jessica Anderson 5. Blocks: Fraase 4. Assists: Amy Freeberg 23. Digs: Fraase 7, Mickelson 7, Somer Bucholz 6, Brenner 5, Freeberg 4. Aces: Miranda Allex 8, Mickelson 3, Brenner 2, Anderson 1, Lauren Sandy 1.
Page 2 of 2 - Devils Lake — Kills: Alexis Longtin 4, Madison Eriksson 3, Macie Helten 2, Morghan Carew 2. Blocks: Longtin 2, Taylor Swanson 1. Assists: Sarah Johnson 7, Swanson 4. Digs: Alexa Gathman 15, Swanson 6, Johnson 5. Aces: Johnson 3.