North Dakota State College of Science advanced to the Region XIII Championship with a sweep of Dakota County Technical College on Saturday, Nov. 2. The Wildcats had to be at their best to top the hosting Bismarck State College Mystics the following day. It was only a couple weeks after the Mystics swept the Cats and it was the same result this time around in a 3-0 defeat (25-16, 25-21, 25-20).
“The end of the year we weren’t gelling as well and Bismarck for sure was playing their best volleyball right now,” NDSCS coach Jane Passa said. “They looked really good. They played great defense and blocked us. It was tough for us to find open spots on the court.”
The home-court advantage played a factor in the playoff bout. In the three matches the pair of Mon-Dak teams have squared off, the host team never dropped a set.
“It’s tough to play in Bismarck. Their crowd was impressive and that gym was packed,” Passa said. “It’s nice to see that at a volleyball game and it’s fun to play in that atmosphere.”
It was the final match for the stellar sophomore class that helped NDSCS to the national tournament last season. Gabby Hahn and Lily Pyle were named to the Mon-Dak All-Conference Team for their dominance at their respective hitters spots in their sophomore campaign.
“(The sophomores have) done great. They’re such great people,” Passa said. “They’re fun to be around and just a pleasure to coach. I’ve been really lucky to be around them. They’re going to be missed for sure.”
Annika Frost, Katie Krieger, Miah Gessell, Ally Gruber and Marisa Garza were all regulars in the rotation the entire year and will be leading the way for Science next season.
“They’ll do great. They have a lot of experience. That’s impressive to have five kids that have played back,” Passa said. “They’ve done a great job. The sophomores set the tone and I said last night, ‘They passed the torch to you and now you’ve got to fulfill all the demands of being a Wildcat and all the expectations.’ They’re ready for that.”
The Wildcats end their season with a record of 25-8, which is even more impressive when looking at how tough their schedule was throughout the year.
“It was a great year for sure. I’m proud of them and wish they would’ve won, but they’re blessed to have been as successful as they have been,” Passa said. “To only lose eight matches the whole year is pretty impressive and they were all to ranked teams.”