Aspyn Peterson giving all she's got to Blue Jay volleyball
Aspyn Peterson is the libero for the Jamestown High School volleyball team. Peterson is a three-year varsity team member.
JAMESTOWN — The Jamestown High School volleyball program is a perfect fit for Aspyn Peterson and when you find the perfect fit, why go anywhere else?
"Volleyball is very rewarding," Peterson, the Blue Jays' libero, said. "The work you put in shows. The team and coaches are like a second family. Everyone is super supportive and easy to talk to."
Peterson, a senior at JHS, is one of a select-few Jamestown student-athletes who have chosen to commit their time entirely to only one of the Blue Jays athletics programs.
Peterson chose to commit to volleyball year-round her sophomore year which was the senior's first year on the JHS varsity squad.
"Aspyn has grown throughout her time here as a Blue Jay," JHS head volleyball coach Sara Hegerle said. "I have seen her put the work in to become the player she has always wanted to be."
Peterson said her commitment to the sport comes from being a competitive person. Also seeing the tangible results of her hard work makes the "sacrifice" all worth it.
"Her confidence on and off the court has shown this year in a big way," Hegerle said of Peterson. "I’m so proud of her and the player and she is now. She put the work in and deserves the rewards."
Peterson is a transfer to Jamestown, having moved to Jamestown from Beulah when she was in fifth grade.
Peterson said the transition to a Class A program from a Class B town wasn't as dramatic for her as she was still in elementary school and she wouldn't be playing at the Class A level until high school.
Still, Peterson took advantage of every opportunity she was offered. The senior libero started attending the camp put on in Beulah when she was in first grade and has been playing volleyball ever since.
"I've always loved volleyball," Peterson said. "Honestly playing year-round was influenced a lot by my friends. I knew that my friends all did it so I wanted to try it out to see if I would like playing year-round and I did.
"I love how rewarding it feels after getting a good dig and my setters set the hitters and get kills. That's the best feeling ever."
While she was named to the varsity squad her sophomore year and was credited with 64 digs across the 2020 regular season, Peterson didn't get to experience the 2020 postseason.
"I got quarantined the week before the WDA tournament so that cut my sophomore season short," Peterson said. "That made me really sad. I would say a lot of the people in my life knew how hard that was for me to go through."
Disappointment fueled Peterson's consistent improvement and put her in a good position to begin her junior year.
Through the team's 18 conference matches last year, Peterson emerged as the team's second-leading passer with 115 digs for an average of 6.3 digs per match.
Her performance in the backcourt wasn't enough to get the Jays to the next level last year.
The Blue Jays cruised to a 3-0 win over Mandan in the opening round of the 2021 WDA volleyball tournament but then fell 3-0 to Bismarck High in the WDA semifinals sending the team to a state qualifying match.
Jamestown's season ended with a 3-0 loss to St. Mary's in the state qualifier.
"This year is a new season and I have really high hopes for this team to get us (to state)," Peterson said. "We are all very capable of that.
"My goals for this season are to constantly get better and have more confidence in myself. I've really been working on that aspect of things."
Across the team's 10 WDA matches played, Peterson has accumulated 230 digs for an average of 23 digs each match. The libero is responsible for eight assists and has recorded eight aces so far this season.
"Bringing the libero position into the game has demonstrated how important good defense is to this sport," Hegerle said. "Not only for the libero, but anyone that specializes in the back row. It’s more valuable than most give it credit for."
Peterson is currently leading the entire WDA in digs.
"This team is very good at lifting one another up after we make mistakes which makes it so fun to be on this team," Peterson said. "We are really good at including everyone ... our work ethic (and) confidence level in the gym are also a lot better."
"Everyone works so hard and you can tell. We don't let nearly as many balls drop on defense which is really important."
While Makenna Nold has taken on the role of both a setter and middle hitter, the junior is currently ranked second in digs recorded with 121.
"The great part about our team is we have a lot of leaders that do play back row but Aspyn has been a great leader there for us this year and has been someone our team and program looks to for that," Hegerle said.
The team's other setter, Edie Hegerle, has notched 109 digs. The Jays are less than halfway through the season, but Bernadette Newman and Rylee Joseph have more than 80 digs each.
"This team is capable of amazing things," Peterson said. "We are capable of making it back to state this year. This team is special. We have the capability of surprising so many people and proving them wrong."
Jamestown's most surprising win of the season came on Sept. 22, when they proved victorious over Bismarck High at the Demons' home venue. After dropping 25-21 in the first two sets, the Blue Jays rallied and captured 25-18, 25-20 wins in the third and fourth sets. Jamestown absolutely destroyed the Demons in the fifth topping them 15-5 to earn its fifth conference win of the season.
That momentum has carried the Jays to three more straight wins.
"I think everyone thinks of us as the underdogs which is fine but that also means a lot of people definitely underestimate what this team can do," Peterson said. "We just have to put it all together and we are so close to doing that."