(#7) Nelson County defeats (#10) Rolette, 3-1, to open Region 4 Volleyball Tournament

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

MCVILLE – For two teams, it all came down to this. One match and one opportunity.

One team was moving on, while the other was wrapping up one final bow on their volleyball season. 

In what was a do-or-die play-in match, the (#7) Nelson County Chargers and (#10) Rolette Comets needed to make a showing over the other. If one did not, the other would. The winning team's reward, of course, was a season with a breath of life to fight another day – the victor of the contest was to take part in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 NDHSAA Class B - Region 4 Volleyball Tournament at Devils Lake on Nov. 8.

Nelson County vs. Rolette 11-4-21

While both teams showed the passion to oust the other, the higher-seeded Chargers eventually pulled through with three straight set victories to clinch the 3-1 win against the Comets on Nov. 4. 

The Chargers (8-12, 4-6) snapped a three-match losing streak dating back to Oct. 19 (3-0 @ Rolla) with the win against the Comets Thursday evening. With Rolette’s elimination, the Comets (2-15, 2-10) ended their season on a 13-match losing streak dating back to Sep. 23 (they lost to the Chargers, 3-1). 

The first set-and-a-half of play threw a curveball to many Charger fans. After all, a collection of miscues on the passing side of the ball inevitably found the Chargers at the wrong end of a 28-26 set one defeat. The loss started to sting even more among the Charger faithful when considering their home team was ahead by seven points midway through the set. 

Senior libero Paytan Lippert immediately recognized what was happening in front of her eyes. Sure, the defensive miscues and lack of communication were factors, but the biggest weapon against them happened to be themselves. 

It was not the first time. 

Senior libero Paytan Lippert (#1) winds up for a practice serve before the match against the Rolette Comets.

“One of our biggest things is getting down on ourselves,” Lippert said. “We take big gaps between when we score, so over the last couple of practices. We have really continued to cheer ourselves on and keep each other high and not get down.” 

The team’s practice motto began to reveal itself slowly but surely as the match continued onward. Although a closely fought 25-23 set two win in favor of the Chargers began to get the train rolling, the team was still unable to find consistent rhythm in the passing department. 

“We just needed to come together and do what we needed to do, and communication was huge,” Nelson County head coach Carrie Eidsness said after the match. “We made a few plays where we were colliding together, and we came through and ended up working together.” 

While the miscues continued to pile up against the Chargers, the Comets continued to play their patient and calculated style that emphasized finesse and tip-in shots. 

To Eidsness, the name of the game was about adapting to adversity and overcoming the difference in style between her team and Rolette’s. 

“We had to adjust,” Eidsness said. “They did not really swing at our hits. They just tipped it over our hits, and so we had to go in and get that coverage.” 

But the Chargers did not cower in defeat. Instead, the team rumbled back with a surplus of accurate serves and timely aces to pick up the 25-19 and 25-18 set three and four victories, respectively. 

“We knew it was go-time,” Lippert said. “It was all or nothing, and we had to lay it all out. We pushed hard to get so where we were. We knew that, so we used our experiences from the season to come back. We have had a lot of close calls.” 

As the Chargers look to play the underdog card to their advantage when they take on (#2) Langdon/Edmore/Munich on Nov. 8, they will need to lean on their strength of character and prepare for a multi-positional battle against an aggressive Cardinal scoring front. 

To Eidsness and Lippert, the challenge is there. Now, it is about conquering it the way the team has conquered many other challenges during the regular season. 

“I just think we grew this season,” Lippert said. “We really came together and found out who we were on the floor and accepted the roles. We had a few injured people throughout the season, and people really stepped up. We grew as a team.” 

The Chargers will officially take on the Cardinals 25 minutes after the (#4) Benson County vs. (#5) Harvey/Wells County match concludes on Nov. 8.