Firebirds gain EDC?victory over Hi-Liners

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Steph Mertens hits the floor for a key dig to keep the ball alive during Thursday’s match against Valley City at the Devils Lake Sports Center. Mackenzie Wade (3) and Haley Prozinski (11) come in to react in an effort to keep the play alive for Devils Lake. The Firebirds evened their Eastern Dakota Conference record at 1-1 with a three-set sweep of the Hi-Liners.

This one had all the earmarks of a marathon in the making. Taylor Wade simply had other ideas.

Wade delivered several key plays down the stretch allowing Devils Lake to overtake a stubborn Valley City team in the third set on its way to claiming a 3-0 win over the Hi-Liners on Thursday at the Devils Lake Sports Center.

Devils Lake won 25-20, 25-20, 30-28 to improve to 1-1 in the Eastern Dakota Conference and 4-4 on the season.

“We’ve learned to push through the tough times and not to give up,” said Wade moments after her third set heroics.

Valley City led by as many as five points at 22-17 late in the set before Wade and the rest of the Firebirds began to chip away at that deficit.

Succesive kills by Haley Prozinski and Wade allowed Devils Lake to close to within 23-20. The Firebirds pulled even closer when Chelsea Kurtz and Wade recorded back-to-back kills and Devils Lake found itself within 23-22

And the Firebirds were not done.

After tying the game when a Valley City attempt to push the ball over the net came up short the comeback was complete. Devils Lake took its first lead in the set since leading 3-2 earlier when Wade slammed the ball down to put the Firebirds in front 24-23.

But Valley City hung close and tied the set five more times before succumbing to the Firebirds.

Kills from Mackenzie Wade on successive plays provided the final two points of the match for the Firebirds.

“We are a pretty good team when we get back to doing the basics,” Devils Lake coach Julie Faul said. “We got away from moving our feet and getting in position and that caused some problems earlier in the set.”

Taylor Wade finished the night with a team-high eight blocks to go along with her 11 kills.

“Taylor is a great athlete who can do some really big things,” Faul said. “(Thursday) she delivered the kind of play that showcases that ability.”

Mackenzie Wade, meanwhile, led the Firebirds with 15 kills. Steph Mertens and Haley Prozinki added nine and six kills, respectively.

Autum Wang tallied 22 assists and Josie Knowski chipped in with 16 for Devils Lake, which travels to Fargo on Saturday to take on EDC?newcomer Fargo Davies.

The Firebirds return to the Sports Center Sept. 14 when they take on West Fargo after ending their three consecutive road trips beginning Saturday.

Devils Lake also travels  to Fargo North (Sept. 7) and Grand Forks Central (Sept. 9).

Valley City     20     20     28

Devils Lake    25     25     30

Devils Lake Statistics

Kills – Mackenzie Wade 15, Taylor Wade 11, Steph Mertens 9, Haley Prozinski 6. Blocks – T. Wade 8. Assists – Autum Wang 22, Josie Knowski 16. Aces – Krissy Larson 1, T. Wade 1, M. Wade 1, Mertens 1, Knowski 1. Digs – M. Wade 12, Mertens 11, Larson 6.