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Blue Jays looking for 'a big win' this week

The Jamestown High School volleyball team will be taking on Bismarck Century Oct. 28.

No drama, no disrespect, just one unified team dialed in ready to do the work.

"The team aspect of this group is especially strong and that's going to pay off," Jamestown High School head volleyball coach Sara Hegerle said. "The other day we got to practice and there were three or four kids who got there early to pick up the tape that was on the floor of the gym. They recognize the importance of the things that don't necessarily make the cover of the paper.

"They do the little things that make the big things a lot more fun. This group has that special awesome sauce."

Hegerle and the Blue Jays are entering week No. 9 of the competitive season at 21-10 overall and 12-5 in the West Region. The squad's first of two matchups scheduled for this week is slated to come on Thursday at Bismarck Century at 7:30 p.m. The Jays will wrap up the week on Saturday with a road match against Watford City. The Jays' last regular season contest will come against Bismarck Legacy on Nov. 2.

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"Moving forward, we need a big win," Hegerle said. "We haven't had one of those in a while where we took it to a team and put the pedal to the metal and finished a match. I think (Thursday) would be a great time to do that.

"There's just something that sticks in our brains when we play teams that are above us in the standing. Century is just one of those teams that get to us and they get to us before we step on the court."

Century has been the West's regular-season champion for five of the past seven seasons. The Jays and Patriots tied for regular-season champs in 2014 and 2017. Since 2014, Century has only suffered four regular-season conference losses. The Patriots have taken the WDA tournament title for the past seven years.

"At some point, someone is going to beat them and I don't see why it can't be us," Hegerle said. "We have all of the tools. I have everything in the arsenal -- our passing is getting better, our defense is stronger, our blocking is very good, our hitters are doing a great job, we have great setters -- we have the components -- they just have to believe it."

Bernadette Newman and Hunter Petersen are tied for the eighth-most kills in the West Region, each with 142 balls hammered at the net, averaging 10.1 per match. Annie Nabwe is second in the WDA in total blocks with 30.5. Setter Katie Trumbauer is averaging 22 assists per match, totaling 308 across the team's 14 matches played.

The Blue Jays are probably the most inexperienced on defense this season. After graduating three-year starting libero Rachel Schiele, the Jays turned to Jenna Fischer to anchor the back row. Fischer is listed as tied for the seventh-most digs in the region with 177. The senior libero has been averaging 12.6 per match. Hegerle also commended Newman for her work in both the back and front row.

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"We definitely all feel like we are moving in the right direction but I don't think that we've played our best volleyball yet," Hegerle said. "I think at times, we've played some really good volleyball but I don't think we've kept it from beginning to the end of the match against some higher competition.

"I don't think it's about the winning or the losing, it's really about staying competitive and composed from the beginning to the end of the match. You are bound to make errors so we don't expect perfection but we want to feel like we gave them our best."

Staying competitive and fighting until the end doesn't just apply to the Jays' upcoming match against Century.

"We are getting ready for the WDA tournament so it's not really about Century -- so we're not going to talk about them, we're just going to talk about the Blue Jays and what we are capable of doing," Hegerle said. "We're capable of doing a lot of good things and it doesn't really depend on who we are playing on the other side of the net."

The WDA tournament, slated to be held Nov. 11-13 in Watford City, will be the Jays' chance at securing a spot at the state tournament for the sixth straight season. Century (17-0), Bismarck High (15-1), Jamestown (12-5) and St. Mary's (11-6) are leading the West as of Oct. 25.

"I think we are reaching that dialed-in phase as a team," Hegerle said. "That's where we are at right now."

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