Devils Lake continues to find confidence in 3-0 sweep against Shanley

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – The Devils Lake Firebirds might not have many wins to their name, but they do have youth and raw potential on their side. Although their collective size might be smaller than a slew of other teams in the A Volleyball – East Region, they have kept their heads high. 

The Firebirds continued to take this message to heart when they played Shanley Tuesday evening. While the Firebirds started slow, they remained competitive in what amounted to a 3-0 sweep in Shanley’s favor on Oct. 19. 

The Shanley Deacons line up to clap with the Devils Lake Firebirds on Oct. 19.

With the loss, the Firebirds (3-18) remain in ninth-place among 10 teams in the A Volleyball – East Region. Shanley (18-4), meanwhile, continues to reign supreme atop the region (they rank first ahead of West Fargo). 

The Deacons, despite their lack of size, quickly shot out to a 12-2 lead and forced the Firebirds to call a timeout. 

A 25-3 verdict through set one might have set the tone early, but the Firebirds quickly rebounded during set two. A pair of Deacon miscues, coupled with more awareness in the passing attack, netted the Firebirds a more competitive finish, despite the 25-12 loss during set two. 

“The girls were able to come back, dig down and get some of those block touches and find some better coverage options for the hard hitters Shanley has,” Devils Lake head coach Megan Sylling said. “They were able to dig and play during those sets.” 

While the passing game continued to refine itself, so did the awareness on the front row. Although the Deacons found enough space to land the kills, they began to get challenged at the top of the net due to the front-row blocking presence led by senior middle hitter Rachel Dahlen. Dahlen finished the match with five blocks. 

“We adjusted,” Sylling said. “With the quick sets, you must adjust so you are there a little bit sooner and can get there a little bit quicker. Getting over, finding those spots, and then having the confidence to block.” 

A 25-14 set three defeat sealed Devils Lake’s fate. With the sweep, the Firebirds have been swept in each of their last three matches since their 3-2 victory over Grand Forks Central on Oct. 4 (excluding tournament play). 

Although the result was not what the team wanted, Sylling believes that as long as her young squad logs more minutes, the experience will eventually pay dividends toward more match wins in the future. 

“We have been working on the passing,” Sylling said. “It is passing and serving we really need to work on. Once you get past Rachel, we only have somebody about 5’9”. That does make a difference. We have a pretty young team right now. I have a couple of freshmen and sophomores playing, so that makes a difference too. They are learning and finding those techniques they can use to compete against these teams.” 

As the Firebirds continue to play toward their final home match of the regular season when they host Valley City, Sylling will continue to preach about staying confident and maintaining composure from start to finish. 

“For the final match, we are really wanting to play and compete against Valley City," Sylling said. "I know the girls wanted that first game back when we played against them. They were up quite a bit against them during that first set and let a couple of mental lapses happen. It is a team we can very easily compete against, so we want to go out, play well, keep a good rotation, go out and get a win.” 

Senior setter Genna Fee led the Firebirds in digs (10), while Dahlen led the team in kills (seven). 

The Firebirds will play their final home match of the regular season on Oct. 26 when they take on Valley City.