Four Winds/Minnewaukan shows breakthrough in 3-2 loss to Nelson County

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

FORT TOTTEN – The Four Winds/Minnewaukan Indians had a tough hill to climb entering their Oct. 5 date with the Nelson County Chargers. 

The hill, to some extent, was event reminiscent to that of an intimidating steppe or mountain. Entering the matchup, the Indians were 0-11 and 0-5 in region play. To make matters worse, Four Winds/Minnewaukan was at the wrong end of a sweep in each match. This, coupled with a shortened 2020-21 campaign (where the Indians were swept in all five matches), did not set the scene well. 

Nevertheless, the Indians looked to put on a show against the Chargers Tuesday evening. And put on a show they did. Despite ending with the 3-2 loss, the Indians won a pair of sets and were able to go the distance against the Chargers. 

Four Winds/Minnewaukan vs. Nelson County 10/5/21

With the win, the Chargers (5-7) are now 3-1 in region play and maintain pace with the other upper powers in the B Volleyball – Region 4 table (they currently rank fifth). Meanwhile, Four Winds/Minnewaukan (0-12) took part in their first five-set match since Nov. 4, 2019 (they beat St. John, 3-2, at St. John High School). 

“I think we are all very excited, and it is nice to even have just a couple of sets under your belt,” Four Winds/Minnewaukan head coach Carla Freschette said after the match. “They really wanted to win. I will say that much. There is a slight bit of disappointment in that, but this is the first time we have gone five sets, so that is something new as well, playing a little longer game. I think they were just excited to say they have some wins in the set column.” 

The Indians started the evening with a fire lit to the maximum temperature as they immediately came out of the gate to win their first six rallies and eight of their first nine. A slew of kills from junior and senior middle blockers Lanehya Malnourie and Ezura Rainbow, respectively, set the pace early through the 25-12 set one victory for the Indians. Malnourie and Rainbow combined to finish the match with 31 kills (16 and 15, respectively). 

Although the Chargers countered with a contested 25-22 set two thriller victory, the Indians rebounded with a 25-20 set three win. 

Even though both teams fell victim to countless serving errors from start to finish, the Indians were able to stay afloat through their communication skills and composure on the court. 

“It was there,” Freschette said. “We talked to each other, but also, I think we were more court aware as well. We knew where bodies were and were transitioning well, trying to get around the ball. I think that helped a lot, too. It was not just verbal communication. We were taking communication cues as well.” 

The Chargers countered the Indians’ awareness with a collection of marquee plays of their own. This allowed them to not only keep pace with Four Winds/Minnewaukan but overtake them with 26-24 and 21-19 set four and five victories. 

Although Nelson County utilized a collection of timely spikes and much-needed digs to keep the plays going, Four Winds/Minnewaukan fought to the end, despite the loss.

As the Indians continue region play, Freschette believes her team will become more comfortable with who plays where and when. 

“I think we are getting comfortable in our rotation,” Freschette said. “We have been changing it up basically every match, dealing with injuries, who is suited best for the situation and who is best in the position at the time. So, I think we found a groove tonight in our rotation, which is going to help things moving forward.” 

Moving forward, Freschette senses a combination of vibrant energy and excitement within her athletes. With this, Freschette believes the best might be to come. 

“I am very proud they finish every set,” Freschette said. “It might not fall our way, but they play every set and match point to the end. So I think I am very proud of them in that, and I know today was longer, and hopefully, we can have more matches like this.” 

Four Winds/Minnewaukan will look to take the momentum to the next level against TGU at Minnewaukan High School on Oct. 7. Nelson County will next do battle against Harvey/Wells County at Harvey High School on the same date.