Firebirds lose to Deacons in three sets, drop to 7th in EDC

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports
Devils Lake Maya Barendt (5) tries to get a kill over the defense of Shanley's Lander Friederich (17) and Megan Mathison during the second set of a NDHSAA volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 in Devils Lake.

After dropping its first set to Fargo Shanley Thursday, Sept. 26, Devils Lake appeared to be on the cusp of a complete free fall as the Deacons were again on cruise control in the second set. However, the Firebirds found — togetherness.

“I thought we were playing really well together. We really focused on the little things and we were defensive sound and we didn’t make a lot of errors and that is what helped us get through that,” said Firebirds head coach Courtney Carlson.

The Firebirds lost the set and eventually the match in a three game sweep but it was that second set that the Firebirds played perhaps their best volleyball of the season.

The Deacons (7-7, 4-4 Eastern Dakota Conference) won the first set 25-10 and were four points away from taking a two set lead on the Firebirds (4-10, 3-5) when Devils Lake rushed back into the match.

Trailing 13-21, the Firebirds went on an 8-0 run, tying the set at 21-all after a Shanley attack error. A service error by Abby Johnson gave the Deacons the lead again but up 24-22, the Firebirds scored two straight points, a kill by Maya Barendt and an attack error by Shanley’s Megan Mathison tying the set at 24. A kill by Lander Friederichs gave the Deacons the lead. Trailing 26-25, a kill by Jes Mertens tied the set, Reile Payne’s kill put the Deacons ahead again but Mertens’ consecutive kill tied the score at 27. Shanley scored the final two points to win the set 29-27.

“That was the best volleyball I’ve seen us play at a high, competitive level [this season] so I was happy with that set,” Carlson said.

The Deacons went out to a 13-3 advantage in the third set after a kill by Payne and closed out the Firebirds 25-17 to win the match.

“Volleyball is such a mental sport that working that hard to go on that 8-0 run and still losing that set, it’s tough mentally," said Carlson about why her squad couldn't carrying over the momentum into the third set. "So we have to get over that breaking point that even though you lose a set, you have a clean slate for the next set."

The loss dropped the Firebirds to seventh place in the EDC, five games behind first place Davies with nine conference matches left to play. Their game Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Sports Center against West Fargo counts as two conference points as it will be the two only meeting.

“It’s still early. The great thing about this is that we get to play all of these teams one more time so I’m excited to play them again,” Carlson said.

Chris Harris can be reached at