FARGO — Fargo Davies felt the emotion soon after the Eagles earned a victory Friday night, Nov. 22, in the semifinals at the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament.
"Honestly, just blind excitement," said Davies junior Grace Solberg. "To work with your teammates this hard, it just means the world."
Solberg smacked 15 kills to help lift Davies to a 25-22, 25-12, 21-25, 25-17 victory against Fargo Shanley at the Fargodome. The Eagles advanced to the state title match for the first time in program history.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for these kids to come out and showcase their skills," said Davies head coach Carolyn Olson. "They've worked so hard the past few years, both in season and out of season."
Davies (32-1), the top seed from the East, has won 28 consecutive matches heading in the state title match, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Fargodome. The Eagles have dropped only 12 sets all season. They haven't lost a match since August.
"They're in it for the right reasons," Olson said of the Eagles. "They are setting aside those personal accolades. They're willing to sacrifice that for the team success. It's a true team, first and foremost."
Davies took an 18-14 lead in the third set after a Solberg kill, and the Eagles looked primed to earn the sweep. However, Shanley countered with the next six points to take a 20-18 lead after a service ace from junior hitter Mariah Burd. That run helped vault the Deacons to a 25-21 victory in the third set and Davies led the match 2-1.
"We know that they're a tough team and they really rally," Solberg said. "So I'm really proud that we were able to fight back and really recognize we had to work as a team if we wanted to win."
The Eagles scored six consecutive points during two separate runs in the fourth set to slow down Shanley's momentum. Freshman hitter Ava Wild capped the second 6-0 run with a kill that gave Davies a 21-12 lead. That fueled a 25-17 set victory that gave the Eagles the match a spot in the state title match.
"I like how composed we were going in the fourth. Sometimes that last set is the hardest one to get," Olson said. "I thought the kids played composed and did what they needed to do down the stretch."
Davies, which started varsity volleyball in 2010, lost in the state semifinals last season. The 5-foot-10 Solberg is in her third season as a starter for the Eagles.
"This means everything," Solberg said.
The 5-foot-11 Wild finished with 14 kills to join Solberg in double digits in that category.
"They're fantastic athletes first and foremost, but they're great people," Olson said of Wild and Solberg. "They're in it for their teammates. They're in it to find a way to make the team successful. And they will do whatever that is for the team."
Junior middle hitter Lander Friedrichs paced Shanley with eight kills and two blocks. Burd added seven kills, 12 digs and five aces.
Olson thinks the Eagles have the right demeanor to perform on the state championship match stage.
"That momentum can shift on a dime and for our kids to have the ability to maintain that composure and not to get rattled by it, I think will speak volumes (Saturday) night," Olson said.
Davies def. Shanley 25-22, 25-12, 21-25, 25-17
SHANLEY (kills-blocks-aces): Burd 7-0-5, DeKeyser 4-0-0, Friedrichs 8-2-0, Hoedl 0-0-1 (25 digs), Manuel 0-0-1, McAllister 3-2-0, Payne 6-1-0, Vetter 1-0-0 (24 assists).
DAVIES: Cooper 9-3-0, Hall 6-1-0, Hallstrom 5-4-0, K. Langlie 1-0-3 (37 assists), M. Langlie 0-0-1 (25 digs), Solberg 15-0-2, Wild 14-1-0.