Devils Lake volleyball receives rude awakening against No. 2 West Fargo
Devils Lake volleyball returned to the court Tuesday after an unexpected and unwanted break. After a positive COVID-19 test was reported inside the program on Sept. 12, the team went into quarantine.
Not having practiced or played for 14 days, the Firebirds made the two and half hour drive south to West Fargo to not only see their first action since mid-September but having that readjustment to play come against the second-ranked team in the state.
Devils Lake volleyball (1-4, 1-4 Eastern Dakota Conference) received a rude awakening on Tuesday as No. 2 West Fargo (12-1, 11-1 Eastern Dakota Conference) swept the Firebirds 3-0 (9-25, 16-25, 7-25). While it wasn't the result Devils Lake was looking for, the team saw some good things in its first game back on the court.
"Coming off a two week break and playing the number two team in the state isn't the most ideal situation, however, the girls had a lot of good things happen," Firebirds head coach Megan Sylling said. "We just need to tighten up and work on our back row digging and hitting as well."
Rust was abundant on the Firebirds from the start of the game as the Packers would score four points off of aces and build a 7-0 lead, forcing a Devils Lake timeout. While the Firebirds struggled to get the offense going in set one, falling 25-9, senior rear hitter Karli Krogfoss was beginning to heat up.
Krogfoss would pick up a kill in set one and would keep Devils Lake close throughout the second set, picking up three kills and a block for the Firebirds. She would finish the game with a team-high four kills and three blocks. Sylling said Krogfoss was the game-changer for the Firebirds in set two.
"Karli Krogfoss was 100 percent the reason we had that surge in set two," Sylling said. "She was blocking, getting touches on the ball, giving our back row the opportunity they needed to get under the ball and put the ball away in the hits."
Along with Krogfoss's performance, the Firebirds back row threw West Fargo's offense off-balance early in set two, with the back row standing tall. On the defensive end, senior outside hitter Malayna Barendt led the Firebirds in digs with eight while senior setter Jenna Frelich followed close with seven digs.
Devils Lake would build at 2-0, but the Packers would storm right back on a 5-0 run and eventually close out the set, 25-16.
The mix of challenging one of the top teams in the state in that second set and having not played for two weeks, fatigue began to set in for Devils Lake and it would begin to show in set three. A handful of errors would set up West Fargo early and the Packer offense would take over for the sweep.
"Not being on the court for a few weeks definitely had an impact in that third set," Sylling said. "The girls were getting tired because they had played super hard in that second set. It's just about to get back into the routine, back on the court, and getting some games under your belt."
The adjusted schedule to the Pandemic has put the Firebirds in the peculiar situation where they are immediately facing off against conference opponents, some of which are the best teams in the state. However, while they might not have the wins yet, Devils Lake is picking up confidence game in and game out.
"Even though the game didn't end certainly the way we wanted it to, it's going to give the girls the confidence they can hang and play with the best in the state," Sylling said. "It shows that they can really pull together, communicate, play as a team, and play with anybody."
Having some excitement in returning back to the court and challenging West Fargo at times, Sylling said there's a building sense of confidence on the team as they continue to move forward. Devils Lake will face off against similar teams to West Fargo in their schedule as they meet with No. 5 West Fargo Sheyenne twice in October and Fargo Davies, who received votes in the last poll, on Oct. 5.
Firebirds will face off against Grand Forks Red River on Friday at home, who've they've face already and are one of two squads they have won a set over this season.
"We're ready for them [GF Red River] and we know what we need to fix when we play them," Sylling said. "As I said, the girls have a little more confidence with a few games under their belt. It was definitely different for them not having that starting tournament this year and going straight into EDC play, but we know what we need to prepare for and that's what we're going to do on Friday."
Stats: Devils Lake vs. No. 2 West Fargo
West Fargo - 3 (25-9, 25-16, 25-7)
Devils Lake - 0
Kills - Karli Krogfoss (4), Laila Gourd (2), Addison Ziegler (1), Jenn Frehlich (1), Malayna Braendt (1), Rachel Dahlen (1) Digs - Malayna Braendt (8), Jenn Frehlich (7), Ellie Volk (6), Brynn Johnson (6), Danyel Elverud (6), Addison Ziegler (2), Jailyn Martinson (2), Karli Krogfoss (2), Rachel Dahlen (1) Assists - Jenna Frelich (6), Brynn Johnson (3), Blocks - Karli Krogfoss (3), Rachel Dahlen (1), Aces - Katiri Bjornson (2)