Benson County concludes regular season with 3-0 win against Nelson County
MCVILLE – A county vs. county battle just so happened to be in the cards Thursday evening, and while the Benson County Wildcats looked to close out their regular season with a win against the Nelson County Chargers, there was one issue that stood in their way.
Although the Wildcats came into the Oct. 28 match as winners of their previous five matches, health issues forced them to go with a different lineup. This, combined with the growing communication pains of a new lineup, potentially gave the Chargers the necessary fuel to light the upset fire underneath their opponent.
No matter for the Wildcats, however. While the Chargers battled back late into the third set, the Wildcats stood their ground and came away with the 3-0 sweep on Oct. 28.
With the win, the Wildcats (15-5-3, 7-3) have now swept each of their last six opponents dating back to Oct. 11 (@ Drayton/Valley-Edinburg). With the loss, Nelson County (7-11, 4-5) has now lost each of their last two matches and three of their last five, dating back to Oct. 12 (3-0 vs. Langdon/Edmore/Munich).
“I think we finished our regular season on a high note,” Benson County head coach Bridget Geller said after the match. “We did not play very well tonight or even the other night against Rolla. We have been out with COVID-19 issues with some girls, so we had to mix in some starters. My eighth grader (Aubrey Kenner) stepped up and played these last few games since the Langdon tournament, really, and earned herself a starting spot. Having her in the game really gave us a little spark to this team that we did not have before. The girls are playing well, but we have a lot more to give on the defensive side.”
Benson County’s defensive issues showed themselves through the early portion of the match. Communication woes between the front and back row prevented the Wildcats from completely pulling away from Paytan Lippert, Rylan Parsley and a slew of other Charger players hungry to pull away with an extra kill or two to stay in the hunt.
A 25-12 victory during set one was quickly followed by a 25-14 set two win in favor of the Wildcats. Even still, a different lineup called for more growing pains on the defensive and passing side. However, senior outside hitter Ashlyn Williams continued to voice out play-calls and act a part in the set-up plays for senior middle hitter Desidy Schwanke. Williams finished the match with eight kills and five digs.
Although the Wildcats did not play as efficiently as they would have preferred, Williams believes the fight through adversity will only make the team more vigorous as they continue to prepare for the postseason run ahead of them.
“With the girls we have now, we are going to practice rotations,” Williams said. “Serve and receive, and get where we are comfortable in our positions. Bring the talk in practice. We practice how we play, so as long as we bring energy in practice, go to our spots and communicate and just know what we are doing. Even with the girls out, and even if they come back during regionals, the girls that come in are still knowing what we are doing. We are going to get ready and make sure we work hard, and if we work hard, we play hard.”
With their 25-16 set three victory for the match win, the Wildcats will now prepare for the 2021 NDHSAA Class B Region 4 Volleyball Tournament at Devils Lake High School on Nov. 8.
Geller was proud of her team’s grit during the win, whether from the soft tip-ins to the high-velocity spikes. To Geller, the regular season was a success. Now, it is about what comes next.
“We had a good season,” Geller said. “We had a lot of ups and downs for a while there with COVID-19 and health issues going around our schools. I am proud of these girls. They have worked hard, day in and day out. We still have a lot of work to do going into regions, but I am excited for where we are going to be seeded. I am excited, they are excited and I think we can go far in this regional tournament.”
Nelson County will conclude their regular season with a match against New Rockford-Sheyenne at McVille on Nov. 1.