The Devils Lake Firebirds get the volleyball win over Eastern Dakota Conference second place team West Fargo Sheyenne 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23.

The force of a unified Devils Lake volleyball team was so strong in the Sports Center that not even Eastern Dakota Conference’s second place team West Fargo Sheyenne could handle it.

The Firebirds, playing their ninth match since Friday, beat the Mustangs in four sets Thursday that made the EDC volleyball race between second and fourth well … a race.

“It’s a two-point win in the EDC so that was a real important win for us,” said head coach Carla Freschette. “We needed that not only for standings but we needed that for our mentality.”

As for the standings, the win has the Firebirds ahead of Valley City by the smallest of percentage points for fourth place with five matches to go. Both Devils Lake and the Hi-Liners are 2 1/2 games back of both Sheyenne and Shanley, which are both in second place although despite the loss to the Firebirds, the Mustangs are ahead of Shanley by percentage points.

Mentally, the Firebirds ended a four match slide, including Tuesday when top EDC team Fargo Davies beat the Firebirds in four sets by winning three in a row after dropping the opening set.

“We played as a unit,” Freschette said about the difference between Tuesday’s loss and Thursday’s win. “We worked as a collective. Everybody has a job but they know that they can’t do theirs without someone else doing their part as well.

“We worked as a true team unit tonight and everybody contributed."

The Firebirds (16-11, 11-5) rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the first set before taking command of the set thanks to a 6-1 run. The Firebirds built a five-point advantage but Sheyenne (19-9, 13-4) pulled to within one, 14-13, but a kill by Maya Barendt began a 4-0 Devils Lake run that gave them a cushion. The Firebirds won the first set 25-19.

After taking the second set, 25-23, the Firebirds fell behind in the third set 7-0. The Mustangs cruised to the 15-25 win to force a fourth set.

“I think we got a little tired,” said Freschette about that lopsided third set loss. “We were tired. We put a lot into those first two sets so our energy kind of fell.”

The Firebirds regrouped, and once they went up four after consecutive kills by Averi Ziegler, they held on to for the match win, taking the fourth set 25-23.

Kyleigh Toso had 14 kills, four digs and three blocks, Chiara Olson had nine kills and 24 digs, Barendt finished with nine kills, two digs and four blocks, Mattea Vetsch had eight kills, 23 digs and three blocks and Taylor Windjue had four kills, four digs and 46 assists to pace the Firebirds, who will host Red River Tuesday.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ