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Majettes volleyball eliminates Watford City in WDA Tournament play-in

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot senior setter Paige Rosencrans celebrates after scoring a point in Thursday evening's WDA play-in contest against Watford City at Minot's Magic City Campus. The Majettes defeated the Wolves by set scores of 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23.

When the Minot High School volleyball team lost 3-1 to Watford City back on Oct. 22, the match left a bad taste in Jayda Bennett’s mouth.

The No. 8-seeded Majettes (9-17, 5-13 WDA) seized their opportunity against No. 9-seeded Watford City (9-23, 5-13 WDA) on Thursday evening, defeating the Wolves by set scores of 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23 at a WDA Tournament play-in match in Minot. With the four-set victory, the Majettes advanced to next week’s WDA regional quarterfinals in Jamestown.

“There was a little bit of tension in the air from the last time we played them,” said Bennett, a senior defensive specialist. “We weren’t expecting the outcome of the last game, so it was really nice to come back and have a good game against them.”

Although the Wolves flexed their offensive muscles early, the Majettes’ resiliency forced Watford City’s defense to make plays. Minot tallied 10 service aces, 50 kills and 86 digs.

“(No.) 8 and 9, that’s a tough game,” Minot head coach Sherry Carlson said. “When you are that tight and you’ve got the same record, you know you’re going to have to play. We came out a little tight, but we started loosening up. It’s that whole belief system again. They knew that they can do this, and they started to relax.”

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Minot senior defensive specialist Jayda Bennett serves the ball during Thursday evening's match against Watford City at Minot's Magic City Campus. Bennett recorded 14 digs and one service ace in the Majettes' win over the Wolves.

Junior outside hitter Morgan Wheeler paced the Majettes with a match-high 21 kills. Senior outside hitter Allie Nelson contributed 10 kills.

Minot’s high-octane offensive attack wore down the Wolves in the later sets.

“We just started talking and trusting each other,” Wheeler said. “We got the passes to get the good hits. It was just an all-around team effort. In the first set, we were a little nervous. Our talking wasn’t there. The rest of the sets were phenomenal.”

When Minot held a 19-16 advantage in the third set, Watford City called a timeout. Minot did not relinquish its lead in that frame, causing the momentum to shift.

The fourth set proved to be more competitive, as the Wolves battled back from a 15-11 deficit. With the score tied at 22-22, Carlson used a timeout.

“Usually, we have to string a couple of (points) together,” she said. “I am very pleased with the girls because we’ve been playing more point-for-point in these last several matches. Legacy, Jamestown, what have you. You need that mentality. Not allowing other teams to make a run on us has been critical.”

The Majettes celebrated on their side of the net after realizing they punched their ticket to next week’s tournament action.

Senior setter Paige Rosencrans handed out a match-high 40 assists, while senior libero Tia Haskins recorded a match-high 23 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Alex Nesheim added a match-high five aces.

“Now, we get to go and have fun at the WDA,” Carlson said. “These kids are not afraid of any of those teams that are above them. They come to play. They have nothing to lose, and that is the advantage of being an underdog. You’ve got to be able to still think the game and do things right to come out ahead. That’s our goal. We want to win some matches down there.”

The Majettes will face No. 1-seeded Bismarck Century (23-2, 17-1 WDA) in the regional quarterfinals at 1 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Jamestown. The Patriots swept both meetings between the teams this season.

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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