Firebirds claim pair of victories at Bismarck tournament
By Ray Maloney
Journal Sports Writer
BISMARCK - After dropping three matches during the first day of the BHS-CHS Invitational Friday, Devils Lake coach Julie Faul remained upbeat.
“We played really well,” said the first-year coach. “We came out on the short end, but every one of the matches were close ... we just couldn’t seem to close things out in some of the games.”
That changed the following day as the Firebirds claimed a pair of victories to break into the win column for the first time this season.
Devils Lake went 2-2 on Saturday with wins over Minot (25-19, 25-22, 8-15) and Belcourt (25-10, 25-22, 15-10), while dropping matches against Century and Dickinson. The Patriots downed Devils Lake 25-15, 25-16, 9-15, while the Midgets won 21-25, 25-22, 15-12.
Devils Lake finished the tournament with a 2-5 record.
“The scores were all close,” said the ever-optimistic Faul after her team returned from the Capital City. “We are right there, so close to becoming a really good team.
“We’re gonna work on some things ... but, we’re right there,” Faul added.
Haley Prozinski drew plenty of praise from Faul for her play during the tournament. Prozinski replaced Taylor Wade, who was hampered by an ankle injury.
“(Prozinski) did a really nice job in the middle,” said Faul, who added Wade’s injury does not appear to be serious, but will be kept out of action while recovering.
Steph Mertens was another Firebird who played well in the seven matches over the weekend.
“She does a lot of things well,” Faul said of Mertens. “She reads the ball well, she hits it and tips it well and really brings another dimension to our team.”
Mertens finished with 15 kills during the tournament, while adding 12 service aces.
Two other players also drew heavy accolades from Faul for their performances over the two-day tournament.
Maren Rygh, a foreign exchange student, tallied 12 blocks, while Kasi Eisenzimmer recorded 80 assists over the weekend.
“(Rygh) really does a great job of getting her hands on the ball,” Faul said, “and Kasi, well, she’s just a steady player and perhaps one of the best setters around.”
Devils Lake opens play in the Eastern Dakota Conference Tuesday when the Firebirds travel to Grand Forks to take on Central High School. The home opener is scheduled for Saturday when the Firebirds entertain Wahpeton.
1. GF Red River, 7-0. 2. (tie) Fargo Shanley and Century, both 6-1. 4. (tie) Fargo North, Fargo South, West Fargo and Williston, all 5-2. 8. Bismarck, 4-3. 9. (tie) Wahpeton, Dickinson, Jamestown and St. Mary’s, all 3-4. 13. (tie) Devils Lake, Grand Forks Central and Fargo North JV, all 2-5. 16. (tie) Mandan and Minot,. both 1-6. 18. Turtle Mountain, 0-7.