2021-22 Region 4 Volleyball Tournament Recap: Day 2 (Semifinals)

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – It was semifinal time on Nov. 9 at Devils Lake High School as two matches made up day two of the 2021-22 NDHSAA Region 4 Volleyball Tournament. One had to expect a touch of top-notch action during the two contests as each of the top-four seeds made it to the semifinals. The crowd certainly was not disappointed with the action that occurred. So, who came out ahead? Let’s give it a look. 

Senior middle hitter Danielle Hagler (middle, red) goes for the ball against the Benson County Wildcats.

(#1) North Star vs. (#4) Benson County: 

Final score: 3-1 North Star 

Set 1: 25-15 North Star 

Set 2: 25-12 North Star 

Set 3: 25-20 Benson County 

Set 4: 25-9 North Star 

At a glance: 

Benson County had their middle-hitting trump card in Desidy Schwanke at their disposal, and everyone knew they would use her heavily. On paper, this looked to counteract North Star’s premier weapon in senior middle hitter Danielle Hagler. However, while the Wildcats certainly put together a fight on the offensive side, the Bearcats were able to react on the defensive side with enough firepower and strike placement to quell any momentum the Wildcats mustered together.  

At least, this seemed to be the case at first. But, after North Star dictated pace through the first two sets, Benson County found more velocity and awareness on the front row to pull out a potentially momentum-shifting set three win. 

(#4) Benson County cheers after they tally a point against (#1) North Star.

“We came out with a little chip on our shoulder, and we were down by two, and I said, this is it,” Benson County head coach Bridget Geller said after the match. “Come out, communicate, hustle and work hard. They did, and they had fun. That is the most important thing. They did not overthink things, and they just played.” 

With the 3-1 loss, the Wildcats (16-7-4) have lost the second game in each of the last nine region tournaments, dating back to the 2013-14 season. The Bearcats (23-0) will play in the Region 4 Championship for the eight-straight year, dating back to the 2014-15 season. 

Although Benson County closed off the middle of the court through sets one and two, the Bearcats found enough space in a critical set four to close out the match, 3-1. The three-headed weapon in Hagler, Gracie Miller and Lindsey Nyhagen helped provide juice on the offensive and digging side to overwhelm the Wildcats at their own game. 

“North Star has a triangle,” Geller said. “They have a strong libero (Miller) inside (Hagler) and set (Nyhagen). When you get those three going, they are hard to beat. They are a phenomenal team, and I give credit to Gracie, Lindsey and Danielle. That is a tough triangle to beat.” 

(#2) Langdon/Edmore/Munich vs. (#3) New Rockford-Sheyenne: 

Final score: 3-0 Langdon/Edmore/Munich 

Set 1: 25-23 Langdon/Edmore/Munich 

Set 2: 25-20 New Rockford-Sheyenne 

Set 3: 26-24 Langdon/Edmore/Munich 

Set 4: 25-21 Langdon/Edmore/Munich

At a glance: 

With the win, the Cardinals (21-3-2) will have the opportunity to claim their seventh-straight Region 4 title, dating back to the 2015-16 season. With the loss, the Rockets (25-9) have gone 0-10 against the Cardinals dating back to the 2014-15 season. 

Although the box score might have illustrated as such, the Rockets did not curl into a ball and accept what the track record might have explained. A closely contested 25-23 set one loss was only the tip of the iceberg as the Rockets rode a collection of Cardinal miscues up front and on the shooting side to give them a big run for their money through sets two and three. 

The Cardinals, however, were not going to let another team dictate the pace if they could help it. After all, the Cardinals were used to setting the tone themselves. This tone turned in their favor late during set three as the Cardinals won each of the last three rallies to transform a 24-23 deficit into a 26-24 win. 

Even still, the Rockets were never lapped. Instead, a closely fought set four emphasized that, despite the defeat, the Rockets can contend with anyone, even if the old-fashioned track record might illustrate otherwise. Dating back to the 2014-15 season, the Rockets had yet to make a significant mark against the Cardinals. 

Until this match, of course. After showing inconsistencies on the serve-receive during their 3-0 loss against the Cardinals on Oct. 19, the Rockets turned it around with a more well-rounded performance in the passing and serving department. 

New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Sara Myhre (left) talks with her team after their 3-1 loss to (#2) Langdon/Edmore/Munich.

“New Rockford-Sheyenne has never taken a set from Langdon,” New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Sara Myhre emotionally said after the match. “To be that close, I have never seen the girls play like that. They played with all of their heart and competitiveness. Their head was in the game, their confidence. Every set was by two. I could not be prouder. It is tears of joy right now of just how proud I am of the way they came together and played. We played Langdon a couple of weeks ago, and it was not even a competition. All I asked was that no matter what happened, to go out and let it be competitive. You have worked so hard all year. Show them what you have and the talent you have. Every single one of them showed that tonight.”