FARGO — One week after the Mustangs competed in their first-ever Dakota Bowl against Bismarck Century, West Fargo Sheyenne found itself back at the Fargodome — on a court instead of turf this time — but with the same opponent.
The Mustangs faced four-time reigning state champs Bismarck Century in the Class A state volleyball semifinals Friday night, Nov. 22. The top-seeded Patriots came from behind to earn a 16-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-12 victory over the second-seeded Mustangs.
"They're a great team. They have the experience and that history as an advantage for them, and I think that definitely came into play later on in the match," Sheyenne head coach Leah Newton said.
The Mustangs earned the first two, but Century gained enough momentum to edge Sheyenne. The Patriots weren't going to have their chance at a fifth straight state title stripped.
"I'm really proud of our girls for coming out and playing hard. You could tell when they stepped on the court they were ready to play and compete," Newton said. "Overall I think we played really well, I just think maybe toward the end, being new in that match and at that time, it was a lot. I think maybe Century handled that a little bit better than us at the end."
Sheyenne plays Shanley in the third-place match at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.
Jadyn Feist led the charge for the Mustangs, putting up three of Sheyenne's first five points. Feist said playing in the semifinal match felt amazing.
"Just being here and being able to compete with Century is a really good accomplishment," Feist said.
Feist did more than just compete. The junior outside hitter tallied 22 digs and 24 kills, more kills than any other player on the court.
"I think we played really well. We were really good at talking, which is a really big part of volleyball," Feist said. "And we were able to flush our mistakes, which is also a really good thing that kept us on."
The Mustangs gained an early lead on a 7-point run in the opening set thanks to a pair of Ellie Such kills and McKenzie Newton aces.
Two Julia Fitterer kills and a Hailey Fletcher ace helped Century trim the 10-point lead, but the Mustangs were hot. An out-of-bounds Century ball finished the first set 25-16 for Sheyenne.
The Patriots struggled to stop Feist's kills, as she put up a quick three points in the second frame.
A pair of Sarah Fleming kills pulled Patriot's ahead for the first time in the match. Two back-to-back serves from Nadia Kranz that Century couldn't handle tied it up.
A McKenzie Newton ace brought Sheyenne to the finish line, and a Century attack error clinched it 25-19 for the Mustangs.
The Patriots quickly grabbed a 9-point lead in the third set, and rode the momentum. A Monti Knewtson ace and Such block trimmed the margin, but Sheyenne couldn't close the gap.
Century earned the 25-20 third frame on a Feist ball that hit the net.
The Patriots rolled into the fourth frame on a 4-point run. Knewtson and Feist erased Sheyenne's deficit with a spike and an ace, but Century quickly took the lead right back. The Patriots stretched the margin to eight (21-13).
After trailing by two sets, Century won the fourth 25-16 to tie the match up.
With both teams playing for a spot in the state title match, the final set was neck and neck.
Each team rode its own spurts, but a 3-point run brought the Patriots to match point, where Century clinched its ninth consecutive state championship bid with a 15-12 win.
The Patriots play top-seeded Fargo Davies in the state title match at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.
SHEYENNE (kills-blocks-aces): Feist 24-4-0, Knewtson 4-1-1 (26 digs), Kranz 0-0-0 (31 digs), Newton 1-7-3 (39 assists), Olson 3-3-0, Smith 4-0-0, Such 13-4-1.
BISMARCK CENTURY (kills-blocks-aces): Clarke 0-0-1 (18 assists), H. Fitterer 13-2-0, J. Fitterer 8-0-0, Fleming 4-6-0, H. Fletcher 7-6-0, Fridley 4-0-0, Lill 1-0-0 (18 assists), Markovic 0-0-0 (16 digs), Nissley 4-0-0.