Devils Lake beats Grand Fork Central 25-16, 25-13, 20-25 and 25-11 on senior night.

There is a special word for senior night for high school athletes — togetherness. Breaking the definition down, there is ‘unit,’ which can describe a team such as the way Devils Lake’s volleyball played against Grand Forks Central Tuesday, Oct. 22.

One set aside, the Firebirds dominated the Knights, winning the match in four sets and completing the season sweep. Devils Lake defeated Central back on Sept. 12 also in four.

“I think we played together. I think our girls are finally learning how to play together and how each individual plays,” said Firebirds head coach Courtney Carlson, describing another definition —  ‘harmony.’ 

“I think the first, second and fourth sets were consistent sets for us.”

The Firebirds (6-14, 4-11 Eastern Dakota Conference) took it to the Knights early in the first set, building a six point lead at 11-5. The advantage went up to nine before the Firebirds closed out the opening set at 25-16.

The Knights had the lead momentarily in the second set at 3-2 but the score tied at four, the Firebirds went on a 9-2 run that put separation between them and Central. The Firebirds won the second set 25-13.

Central (5-20, 1-13) took the lead in the third set at 4-3, increased it to four but the Firebirds stayed close. A Rachel Dahlen kill cut the Firebirds’ deficit to one at 11-10 and then a Hope Schumacker kill tied the set at 13-all. With the Knights leading, an Ellie Volk ace tied the set at 16 from which the Firebirds upped their lead to two. However an attack error by Maya Barendt (who had 19 kills for the match) gave the lead back to the Knights who went on to win the third set 25-20.

Volk finished with four aces and Dahlen had four blocks for the match.

The Firebirds closed out the match with the 25-11 fourth set win.

“We got a little too comfortable in that third set but we came into the fourth set level headed,” Carlson said.

Katie Noreen had 11 kills and 20 digs and Aubrea Lommen had 22 assists to lead the Knights.

The seven seniors, Jessica Mertens (four kills, 31 digs), Morgan Anderson (nine digs), Autumn Thompson, Olivia Elfman (39 assists), Abby Johnson (48 digs), Schumacker (five kills) and Barendt left the court behind ‘Thank you seniors’ cheers from the student section, as a group — together.

The Firebirds will be on the road for three of the final four matches, beginning tonight when they travel to Fargo South and Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Valley City. They close out their home schedule Halloween against West Fargo Sheyenne.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com.