Jamestown back to winning ways

Following Jamestown’s loss in the West Region championship last weekend – its first defeat in 25 matches – the Blue Jays ached to get back on the court.

“I think Monday, we were ready to go,” coach Sara Hegerle said. “We were ready to come up here and play volleyball.”

On Thursday at the Minot State University Dome, Jamestown had no trouble forgetting about its first setback in months. The West Region No. 2 seed routinely swept perennial power Grand Forks Red River 25-16, 25-15, 25-19 to advance to the Class A state tournament semifinals for the first time in school history.

The Blue Jays (32-4) meet East Region No. 1 seed Shanley at 6 tonight, while the Roughriders (18-14) drop into a consolation semifinal at noon against Bismarck High.

Entering the match, Hegerle had never won a set against Red River during her three-year tenure, let alone a match. She said sweeping the eight-time state champion Roughriders – the most decorated volleyball program in North Dakota – just adds to the record-setting victory.

“They’re a young, inexperienced team, but at the same time, it’s Red River,” Hegerle said. “State championships up and down the way and they have a great coach, so we’re really happy with 3-0.”

Jamestown breezed through the first two sets without any trouble, but needed to fight back from a six-point deficit in the third frame to close out the match.

The Roughriders ran off six straight points to seize a 12-6 advantage and induce a Blue Jay timeout.

“I feel like at first we just kind of got a little excited with getting up 2-0,” junior outside hitter Rainey Selvig said, “but then we got right back into it, took a deep breath and did what we can do.”

The Blue Jays notched 19 of the final 26 points in dominant fashion, including three separate three-point spurts and a 4-0 run.

“It’s tough when you feel like your match is over and you’re playing pretty well,” Hegerle said. “But then we took a timeout and I feel like they really took it to ’em after that.

“This team’s been capable of being down and then coming back.”

Selvig, surrounded by talented hitters, recorded all five of her kills in the first set, which the Blue Jays finished off by winning eight of the final 11 points. Red River had trouble defending pin hitters all match.

“Other teams don’t understand what some of our other players can do, because they don’t key on them,” Hegerle said. “We know that she can do it.”

The Roughriders tried to focus on Jamestown’s all-West Region senior middle blocker Addie Eamon, but she still tallied match highs with 10 kills and five blocks.

Senior setter Josie Hegerle posted 31 assists and 11 digs for a double-double and senior defensive specialist Julina Niemeier had a team-high 20 digs.

Senior outside hitter Jennifer Trader led Red River with six kills, junior Jamie O’Halloran anchored the defense with a match-best 23 digs and sophomore setter Mari Rustebakke finished with 22 assists.

Hegerle said the Blue Jays’ first state quarterfinal win was the ideal way to forget about their loss to St. Mary’s. Their new winning streak is now at one match.

“We were no longer playing to not lose,” Hegerle said. “We were playing to win.”