Devils Lake looking for quicker start after loss to Grand Forks Red River

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Senior defensive specialist Katiri Bjornson digs the ball in a game against Grand Forks Red River on Oct. 2 at Devils Lake High School. The Firebirds lost 3-0.

Since returning to the court Tuesday against West Fargo, the Firebirds have found a rhythm, but it has taken a few sets to get there. 

Against the Packers, after a slow start, Devils Lake was able to put up a valiant fight in the second set against the Packers, before falling in the third set. Friday night against Grand Forks Red River, the Firebirds found their rhythm, but late in the game. 

After back to back 25-11 set losses, Devils Lake (1-5, 1-5 Eastern Dakota) would go toe to toe in the third set with the Roughriders, but couldn't avoid the sweep as Grand Forks Red River (5-3, 5-3 Eastern Dakota) would best the Firebirds 3-0 (11-25, 11-25, 20-25).

"Tonight we needed to come out and play, and we just weren't in the game," Firebirds head coach Megan Sylling said. 

The Roughriders would come out shooting early as they would boost out to a 23-8 lead, forcing the Firebirds into two timeouts. While Devils Lake did see offensive production off of three kills and an ace in the set, and seven Firebird points were collected off of Roughrider errors. 

The second set saw Red River jump out on a 6-0 run before junior middle hitter Rachel Dahlen would snap it with a kill. She led the Firebirds in kills on the night with three. Devils Lake would be able to pull within four a 8-4, but the Roughriders would go on 9-0 run to pull away for a set two victory. Alex Page led the effort for the Roughriders with 11 kills and was aided by Ashlee Walsh, who collected 31 assists. 

"We just need to be bigger on our blocks at the center," Sylling said. "We didn't have our blocks tonight and that hurt us in the end."  

In the third set, Devils Lake kept pace with Red River from start to finish. The Firebird's offensive surge was led off by senior outside hitter Addison Ziegler, who had two aces and two kills, and junior setter Brynn Johnson, who had three aces and two assists. 

"She's [Ziegler] has got a fantastic hit and she's very strong, and her serves are really good," Sylling said.  

Another part of the Firebirds surge was their adjustment on defense as new combinations on the backline proved to be working. Senior outside hitter Malayna Barendt lead the defensive stand with 11 digs followed by senior libero Ellie Volk and senior setter Jenna Frelich, who both collected six digs. 

"The third set they came out, were moving a lot better and we're communicating more," Sylling said. "That definitely changed the outcome and made it more of a playable game." 

However, the Firebirds effort fell a bit short and the Roughriders would go on a late 6-2 run to close out the match and the game. Sylling said the team needs to come out ready to play moving forward. 

"We need to get confident in ourselves and the girls need to get ready to play right away," Sylling said. "We weren't ready and that showed in the game." 

Heading deeper into a conference-only based schedule, Devils Lake hasn't played everyone yet, but have already met a few of their upcoming opponents already. The Firebirds face off against Fargo Davies on Monday and Fargo North on Oct. 13. Devils Lake has already face Fargo North this season, falling to the Spartans 3-0 on Sept. 8. Sylling said the key to facing familiar opponents is being prepared. 

"The girls need to get ready to play," Sylling said. "That's all there is to it." 

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

Senior setter Jenna Frelich serves the ball n a game against Grand Forks Red River on Oct. 2 at Devils Lake High School. The Firebirds lost 3-0.

Friday Lake Region scores


Grand Forks Red River - 3 (25-11, 25-11, 25-20) 

Devils Lake - 0 

Leaders: DigsMalayna Bardendt (11), KillsRachel Dahlen (3), Assits Jenna Frelich (6), BlocksKarli Krogfoss (1), Laila Gourd (1), Rachel Dahlen (1) Aces Brynn Johnson (3) 


No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich - 50

Bottineau - 6 


Nelson County vs. North Border 

New-Rockford Sheyenne vs. North Prairie 

Benson County vs. Dunseith