Playing in the first volleyball ever played at the "World's Only Corn Palace" was a great experience. The tournament matches that went along with the event were all good and fun to watch. It may end up being that DWU plays all home matches there in future seasons. We'll have to see how that progresses though.
Friday was a full day of college matches that started at noon and ended around 10pm. What a long day but so much fun. Well we started off the tournament with NCAA Div II program Colorado Christian. Wow were they athletic, discipline and very explosive. They did a great job in transition turning our attacks into kill opportunities for them. We came out a little slow in each of the 3 sets played and had to play from behind each time. We couldn't rely on our comeback ability in any set as CCU was dominate in the middle of the court. They blocked and attacked well from the middle and we struggled to either block or dig them from there. We had our runs of points but their aggressive serving and quick transition plays were just a little too much for us in the end.
We came out in our next match at 8pm (the nightcap of the first day) against Dickinson State with a lot of energy and fire in our mental approach to the night. We competed very well in all of the sets up until point 17 or 18 and then it seemed that we would hit a wall. Our serve receive passing or side out ability was not strong throughout the weekend and really held us back from closing out some sets. We had a great opportunity to change the momentum of the DSU in the 2nd set. We had the majority of the momentum throughout the entire set, our attacking percentage was better than theirs, we had more aces, and more blocks in that set. Yet it came down to our inability to side-out right away; we gave a final 3 point run to close out set #2 and it really hurt our confidence for the start of set #3 as we dropped 5 straight points to open the set. We battled back but the initial start really hurt our chances to really get back into the set. It was great to see that there was some fire in us, some push. We will just need to find it more consistently for 25 points and not 18. Ashley Kley played well with 11 kills as well as Kimi Lueders who had 6 kills, 0 errors and hit .545.
The second day was the true start of the fun for the tournament. We had 3 college matches start the day on campus at DWU at 9am and then some HS matches started at noon at the Corn Palace. The noon match at the Corn Palace with Hanson facing Marion really kicked off the day as that match went 5 sets and had a lot of emotion poured into it by both teams. The second HS match of the day had Mt. Vernon facing Corsica/Stickney for the CBH Conference Tournament Championship. Corsica/Stickney got through Mt. Vernon in a quick 2 set match to win the tournament championship. The third HS match was the nightcap event and had rivals Mitchell HS against Huron HS. All expectations were that Huron would run away with the match. However, Mitchell had very different plans. MHS came out with so much energy and passion that Huron didn't know what hit. Mitchell played solid all night both offensively and defensively to take the match in 4 sets and make waves in the rivalry. Congratulation MHS. Great finish to the Corn Palace Classic.
The second match was us facing Kansas Wesleyan. We came out with great energy, focus and determination to get the job done. We battled to close victories in the first 2 sets to only lose a little focus and drop the next two sets in close fashion. We conquered the 5th set again in close manner after first pushing out to an early 6 point advantage. We managed to get it done and win the match even though not having a great offensive performance overall but we found ways to win. Congrats ladies. There were a few players that had solid matches. Brooke Warne had 32 digs to lead the team. Carina Fesenmaier had 45 assists and 21 digs. Ashley Kley had 11 kills and 20 digs. Kimi Lueders had 10 kills and only playing in 2 sets Rachel Tinklenberg played a great backup role and came out with 8 kills on 13 attacks. There was great balance throughout all of the stats and something we are hoping to continue for the rest of the season.
The last college match put DWU vs. Valley City State University. This has grown into one great rivalry. So let's set this up, these two teams have played 3 prior to this match over the past 2 seasons with each match going 5 sets and a DWU victory. Two of those victories were when VCSU was up 2 sets to none forcing DWU to come back and win the next 3 sets. Which happened just the week before at the USF tournament. Needless to say, VCSU really wanted to get the monkey off their back. They came out on fire in the first set just putting it to us 25-12. We had no answers due to our serve receive passing, setting, and hitting not being up to par. However, we would not falter to the challenge and came out to have our best offensive set of the season putting up 18 kills in the set and hitting .406 to go on and take the set 25-19. As we made the crossover to switch sides VCSU's staff and I could only laugh and say "why not go 5 and continue the streak". We all knew that the fight was on for this match. We came out in the 3rd and played a roller coaster set of play while at the same time so did VCSU, a lot of errors by both teams. We came out on top 25-22. Heading into the 4th set our players were demanding to finish this in 4; the talk was there but not the walk. We came out flat with our serve receive execution again and it started us in big hole to start the set. We couldn't quite pull it back to even and eventually lost the set 25-21. So why not a 5th set between DWU and VCSU, keep the rivalry alive. However, this time VCSU decided that they had had enough of losing these type of matches to us. They had a determination in their play that we could not match, unfortunately. I think our previous wins in the 5th set gave us a false sense of comfort thinking that they would just fold. Unfortunately we could not defend their pin to pin offense in the 5th as their OH's picked us a part to an easy 15-8 match win. This match hurt yet however gave us a great lesson in understanding that you always have to remain hungry for the victory. They just won't happen because of history.
The weekend was a success for all of the teams. I want to thank all of the volunteers that did everything from taking tickets, security duty, scorekeepers, stats, and line judging. Without all of you this tournament would not have run so smoothly. Thank you to everyone who came out to support all of the teams that played. I am sure you had a lot of fun getting to watch so much volleyball in one weekend.
- Coach V