Benson County volleyball powers to 5-0 with sweep of St. John

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Benson County players celebrate after a point in a game against St. John on Sept. 24 at Leeds High School. The Wildcats won 3-0.

The janitorial staff at Leeds and Maddock High Schools must enjoy cleaning up after Benson County volleyball games. The Wildcats sweep their opponent out and are in and out of the gym in less than an hour.

The Wildcats game Thursday against St. John (1-5, 1-4 Region 4) was no different than their last four as Benson County (5-0, 2-0 Region 4) would sweep the Woodchucks, 3-0 (25-6, 25-9, 25-12), moving its undefeated record to 5-0. The undefeated start is the program's best start in almost a decade.

"We came out, needed a game full of energy and we played our game," Wildcats head coach April Duchscher said. "The girls I called off the bench came in and played well. They have a lot to be proud of."

That energy was abundant from the first serve as sophomore middle hitter Jaylen Anderson would strike down three straight points off of aces to put Benson County ahead 3-0 early without the ball coming back over the net. The Wildcat service line was dangerous as Benson County would serve up 23 aces on the night, lead off by junior middle hitter Desidy Schwanke with nine.

"We've been working on serving aggressively and spot serving in practice," Duchsher said. "I was giving them spots and they were getting the ball where it needed to be. That's what was giving us our aces."

Schwanke wasn't just a force on the service line, but lead the Wildcat offense in front of the net. She would knock down a team-high 12 kills, picking up six in the second set alone. Schwanke said she credits her production on offense to those setting her up.

"Our passing and setting have really improved through the first couple of games, so all the credit to the setter," Schwanke said. "She's been really good this year and that helps a lot."

Senior setter Kearyn Nelsen has been a lock for Benson County this season in the setting role. Against St. John, she set up her teammates 21 times, with Schwanke being a popular target. Nelsen had all, but two of Benson County's assists on the night.

The Wildcats offense has been clicking left to right and top to bottom early on in the season. Benson County has outscored their opposition 404 to 245 this season and has had four matches where their opponents have scored less than 10 points. However, in having a strong offense, the Wildcat defense hasn't been too active in game situations.

"We really work hard on our defensive game in practice," Duchsher said. "Coverage drills are huge because you never know if we're going to go up against a big block, so you have to go down low for that. When we make those mistakes, we're usually caught standing up or out of position."

Against the Woodchucks, while the Wildcats did limit any offensive surge, the defensive unit recorded one block and 10 digs on the night. Schwanke said while there were a few times she felt like the defense was off, the Wildcats overall had a good defensive showing.

"Our defense is kind of huge for us," Schwanke said. "Our blocking and passing need to be right. Our defensive rotation is huge and that helps create our offense too."

Sitting undefeated on the season may feel good, but Benson County is well aware of the challenges that are ahead and what they need to bring to every game. The Wildcats had scheduled games against top 10 squads in No. 7 Langdon/Edmore/Munich, which was supposed to happen Sept. 22, and No. 8 Carrington, but both were postponed due to exposure to the Coronavirus at each school.

"I think we just need to pick it up more in general," Schwanke said. "When we play teams like Langdon we're not going to get free balls every time."

Looking for new opponents next week, Benson County is looking to stay sharp and prepared for every opponent, wither it's a top 10 regional foe or a team similar to St. John. If the Wildcats can't find opponents to fill the holes in their schedule, they will play Larimore on Oct. 5 in Larimore.

"We're bringing it tough every practice," Duchscher said. "The coaches are going up against them too and trying to simulate real-life situations that we possibly can. It's been hard, but we can't lose that energy. Some of the girls are upset because we keep losing matches, but we have to keep up the intensity."

That statement of maintaining intensity and remaining unfazed has echoed up and down the roster. In a time where things aren't the best, Benson County has found a ray a light that they are looking to ride for as long as they can.

"We need to have stronger practices, put in the effort, and just remain positive," Schwanke said. "If everyone stays positive, that brings our team up and makes everyone better."

Contact Jack Williams with any comments at or on Twitter @jackgwilliams

Benson County's back row prepares to receive a serve n a game against St. John on Sept. 24 at Leeds High School. The Wildcats won 3-0.

Thursday Lake Region volleyball scores

Benson County - 3 (25-6, 25-9, 25-12)

St. John - 0 

Leaders: Kills - Desidy Schwanke (12), Aces - Desidy Schwanke (9), Assists - Kearyn Nelsen (21), Digs - Desidy Schwanke (6), Blocks - Hailey Maddock (1) 

North Star - 3 (25-18, 28-26, 25-17) 

Rolla - 0 


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