Rockets run out of steam in 3-0 sweep against North Star
NEW ROCKFORD – Tuesday’s matchup between the North Star Bearcats and New Rockford-Sheyenne Rockets was a significant one, and it did not take a zoologist or rocket scientist to realize as such. After all, both teams were top three in the B Volleyball – Region 4 table coming into the match.
The significance went beyond where both teams stood in the standings. North Star was coming off a runner-up finish in the Langdon Area Tournament on Oct. 9. New Rockford-Sheyenne was a pristine 3-0 on their home court. Then, of course, was the apparent elephant in the room – both teams were undefeated in region play (excluding tournament matches), with the Bearcats being 5-0 and the Rockets being 4-0.
The stage was set, and while the Rockets showed tenacity through the first set, they could not keep up the pace in what amounted to a 3-0 defeat against the Bearcats on Oct. 12.
With the win, the Bearcats (14-0) sit atop the Region 4 table and are additionally the first Region 4 team to eclipse the five-win mark in region play (5-0). With the loss, New Rockford-Sheyenne (14-5) is 0-8 against the Bearcats across all competition dating back to the 2017-18 season.
A sweep looked to not be in the cards during the first set of the evening. However, after both teams traded points midway through the first set, the Rockets found life and enough presence on the first row to vault ahead to an 18-11 lead once the Bearcats called their first timeout of the set. However, immediately after the Bearcats came out of the timeout, senior middle hitter Danielle Hagler helped trim away the Rockets’ lead.
Even still, the Rockets stood firm and looked to find a steady counter to Hagler’s velocity. A pair of blocking fouls called in North Star’s favor, however, netted the Bearcats the 28-26 win.
“We played them in Devils Lake, so we knew what we were up against, and we knew they would put up a good fight,” North Star head coach Aubree Page said after the match. “We knew what they had, and we knew it was going to be a tough match, so we knew we had to bring our A-game. We started slow, which was frustrating for everybody, but we fought back, which was good to see.”
The Bearcats were just getting warmed up. Although the Rockets immediately won four straight points to open set two, the Bearcats won eight of the last 11 points to pull ahead with a 25-15 win during set two.
New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Sara Myhre believes her team needed to maintain a sounder coverage plan in anticipation of dealing with a middle hitter of Hagler’s talent. Hagler finished the match with a team-high 36 kills.
“Danielle Hagler is an amazing hitter,” Myhre said. “We always want to make sure we are always following here. I think we are just going to get back into the gym, watch film and reevaluate this game. We can keep up with them just fine. One thing about tonight, from what I noticed, was our blocking. We need to have better blocking in coverage up front there. We did not have a whole lot of errors. Coverage and blocking are some of the biggest things when we go up against these big hitters.”
A 25-13 set three win in favor of the Bearcats not only secured the victory but helped keep momentum in North Star’s favor.
To Page, the key for her team moving forward is staying smart and keeping patience. Should they clean up from their set one miscues, Page believes her team will sharpen their level of play to another level.
“Be smart and make good choices. If the set is off or the pass is off, we need to make good choices. The setter needs to make good choices on where she needs to go, or if the hitters if the set is off because the pass is off, they need to place the ball better and not go up and try to get a kill every time. Make good judgment on placement.”
Although the Rockets ended up with their first home loss of the season, Myhre believes her team, with consistent energy from start to finish, can keep pace with the higher-tiered teams in the region in preparation for the postseason.
“North Star is always a great competitive game,” Myhre said. “It is always fun to play them. We will be watching a lot of film. Moving forward, I think we need to make a couple of corrections and fix a couple of things. I think we can compete against them.”
North Star will next play Cavalier on the road on Oct. 14. New Rockford-Sheyenne, meanwhile, will conclude their brief two-match homestand on Oct. 14 when they take on Rolette.