North Dakota State College of Science’s volleyball team enters this year with as high of expectations as any Wildcat team before them. A stellar sophomore class returns from last year’s NJCAA National Tournament qualifying squad and they enter the season ranked 13th in the nation.
Judging by their first two games of the year, they’re ready for another big season.
The Wildcats trounced Mayville State’s JV in a sweep (25-11, 25-21, 25-11) and followed it up with another sweep against Central Lakes College (25-17, 25-20, 25-19) in a home triangular on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
“I’m proud of them. They did good for their first match,” NDSCS coach Jane Passa said.
Strong starts to the matches were key to the pair of victories. Passa would’ve liked to have kept their play at that level throughout the later sets, but admitted two games in a day can wear players down.
“We started out with big energy in both matches, which is important. I think they kind of slowed down, but it’s also 8:45 at night and they played at 3:30, so I think that’s part of it,” Passa said. “It was good that they fought back and stayed focused.”
The strong veterans were complimented by the newly-added freshmen. Miah Gessell was a standout in her NDSCS debut, leading the team in kills against Mayville.
“Everybody (stood out) at different times. Miah looked really good as a freshman, so that was good to see,” Passa said. “(The freshmen) did good. They’re contributing for sure and that’s nice to see. They’ll get better and better.”
Another freshman, Katie Krieger, was solid in her first game as a Wildcat. Krieger is the team’s libero after Tatum Pickar moved on to South Dakota State.
“Our libero really did good. We lost our libero to SDSU when she went Division I in May, so she had to step into some big shoes and she did a good job today,” Passa said.
Gabby Hahn, who enters this season as a Preseason All-American, was her usual self in the opening night. Her impact was felt in a variety of ways and she made multiple tough plays look effortless.
Science (2-0) will have a grind of a weekend at the Northeast Community College Tournament in Nebraska. They’ll play two games on Friday, Aug. 30 and two more the next day with three of their opponents also ranked in the top 25.
“It’s a good start. Now we’ve got a huge weekend, though. We’re starting off with a bang, which is exciting for these girls,” Passa said. “(The freshmen) get baptism by fire this weekend. I’m excited.”
NDSCS Stat Leaders Against Mayville State JV
Miah Gessell- 12
Gabby Hahn- 9
Elizabeth Lyons- 7
Lily Pyle- 3
Ally Gruber- 3
Katie Krieger- 22
Lexi Hansch- 7
Annika Frost- 7
NDSCS Stat Leaders Against Central Lakes
Gabby Hahn- 12
Miah Gessell- 8
Ally Gruber- 6
Elizabeth Lyons- 3
Lily Pyle- 3
Katie Krieger- 13
Lexi Hansch- 6
Anika Frost- 15