This is a big one: Top spot on the line tonight in Bismarck
Jamestown set three goals for the regular season, and the Blue Jays are hoping to knock down the final pillar tonight.
A win would mean the first No. 1 seed in program history for the Blue Jays. Regardless, they’ll be in the opposite bracket of Century at regionals, as the loser of tonight’s match is locked into the second spot.
Finishing with the best record in the conference was the third of three goals the Blue Jays set. They beat Century 3-2 at home and won the prestigious Fargo Scheels Invitational earlier this season.
“We accomplished the other two,” Jamestown coach Sara Hegerle said. “Hopefully, we’ll do this one too.”
Jamestown enters with a 13-0 record in West Region play and a mark of 27-3 overall. Two of its three losses came to Minnesota schools at a Minnesota tournament, and the other was to Fargo Shanley (23-2) in three games in the championship match of the Bismarck High-Century Invite in Bismarck to open the season.
“I haven’t been surprised, just because we’re doing what we trained to do,” Hegerle said. “I am surprised a little that there hasn’t been more (bumps in the road). Our bumps in the road have been matches where we didn’t play well even if we won in three. There have been those moments. Also, I think we get better every time we have one of those moments.”
Century (13-1, 27-4) has a couple of explosive hitters in juniors Ali Hasche and Jordyn Jossart, who are likely to test Jamestown’s resilient back row.
“We have to find open areas,” Century co-coach Jamie Zastoupil said. “Jamestown is one of the best defensive teams in the state. They have an amazing back row. We hope to find open areas, but it’s not easy against them.”
Sisters McKayla and Meghan Orr, and junior Julina Niemeier haven’t given opponents much room for kills with their digging ability, which was on display in Jamestown’s five-game win over the Patriots earlier this season, especially when Jamestown got out to a 2-0 lead.
Still, Century battled all the way back to force the fifth set.
“They’re just so athletic; they have so many weapons,” Hegerle said of Century. “They’re gonna be better than they were the first time we played them. I can’t imagine it’ll go 3-0. It really could go either way.”
For the visitors to win, they’ll likely need to lean on seniors Addie Eamon, Josie Hegerle and McKayla Orr, something coach Hegerle has no problem with.
“It’s OK for them to put pressure on themselves. I think the three of them can handle it,” Sara Hegerle said. “They have so far this year. They’ve done a nice job of being leaders. They’re pumped up just to have this opportunity and being where we’re at.”
Zastoupil said the Patriots need to serve better than last time out.
“We have to do a better job of keeping errors low,” she said. “Setting is always very important and we need our servers to be on.”
For Hegerle, it’s about keeping the match in perspective. The Blue Jays have West Region contests against Mandan and Minot remaining before regionals.
“We’re not trying to do anything tricky,” Sara Hegerle said. “One of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we’ve been pretty consistent. I don’t think we have to change our game plan to be successful.
“I don’t want our kids to feel like if we lose, it’s the end of the world. Once we see what happens, we’ll sit down and evaluate it.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or email@example.com