Devils Lake fails to overcome West Fargo's pace in 3-0 sweep

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE - Although Devils Lake showed brief glimpses of momentum, the Firebirds (1-10) were swept in three straight sets to West Fargo (5-2) at Devils Lake High School Tuesday evening. 

With the loss, Devils Lake has gotten swept in nine of its last 10 matches dating back to Aug. 27 (Bismarck Century High School). With the defeat, Devils Lake has yet to win a home match this season. Their home last match came on Sep. 12, 2020 (3-2 vs. Wahpeton). 

West Fargo vs. Devils Lake 9/14/21

West Fargo immediately came out of the gate with fire and velocity as they won six of their first eight rallies to start the match. Although Devils Lake attempted to set up middle hitter Rachel Dahlen for the immediate kill, they were unable to catch up to the velocity on the opposing serves. This, coupled with a lack of communication, sank the Firebirds to a 25-7 set one defeat. 

“They had to have confidence in themselves,” Devils Lake head coach Megan Sylling said after the match. “They needed to try and push harder with the ball, and they needed to get some passes so that we could set up on the court.” 

Although Devils Lake immediately fell into yet another hole early through the second set, the Firebirds were able to find more rhythm and begin to create more pace in connecting with the opposing velocity. After the Firebirds began to position accordingly, they allowed their lengthier players to capitalize on each rally. After starting the second set down 5-0, the Firebirds exploited West Fargo and won six of the following seven rallies. 

To Sylling, it was all about sticking to the game plan, which revolved around more emphasis on stride as opposed to size and speed. 

“We have to play our pace of a game,” Sylling said. “We have a very unique pace, so when we force teams to play at our pace, we get more errors on their part, and so that is one thing I really strive for the girls to do is our pace of volleyball as opposed to their pace.” 

Nevertheless, the Firebirds could not keep up with the pace and lost their second set, 25-17. Through the latter stages of the third set, West Fargo utilized their speed to keep the Firebirds out of sync and eventually overcame their region opponent for the 25-8 set win and 3-0 sweep. 

Even with the team’s defeat, Sylling believes her team must maintain their current game plan of playing small and setting up their 6’2” senior middle hitter in Dahlen. Dahlen finished the match with eight kills, six blocks and two digs. 

Middle Hitter Rachel Dahlen

“Getting Rachel set up every time is a big key for our game. We need to have those consistent servers with the seniors, and we just need to continue to work on the passing and continue to push every game.” 

Senior setter Brynn Johnson finished the match with a team-high seven assists. Libero Zoee Devier led the team in digs (five), while the team’s two primary outside hitters in Rebekah Widmer and Vivianna Kraft were tied for second on the team in kills behind Dahlen (three each). 

Devils Lake will next play Valley City at Valley City High School on Sep. 16.