'Loose and fun': Blue Jays end their season the perfect way
The Jamestown High School volleyball team took on Bismarck Legacy in the state tournament's third-place match.
BISMARCK — Only the Jamestown High School volleyball team would get its entire team and head coach Sara Hegerle to line dance to Cotton Eye Joe in the middle of the third-place match at the 2022 Class A state tournament and then 30 seconds later get back to business.
"Some coaches wouldn't allow that," Coach Hegerle said. "But for us, honestly, who cares if we win the next point? This is about the kids and it's their experience. Are they going to remember winning or are they going to remember dancing on the sideline with their parents watching them in Bismarck? That just describes our year -- loose and fun."
Bernadette Newman threw her head back and laughed:
"That's just how the Blue Jays roll," she said.
Jamestown ended its season as the No. 3 team in the state, topping Legacy 16-25, 25-27, 25-18, 15-25, 15-11 in the Class A state tournament. The finish is the best the program has seen since the Blue Jays were named state runners-up in 2017.
The Jays entered the Class A state tourney as the No. 2 seed out of the West Region. They outlasted Fargo South in the quarterfinals in a gritty five-set match which sent them through to the state semifinals. The Blue Jays dropped 3-0 to West Fargo Sheyenne pinning them against Legacy for the fourth time this season.
"I wasn't actually that upset last night," Hegerle said of losing in the semifinals. "Maybe if the scores would have been closer or if we would have played poorly but (Sheyenne) earned that win. They were the better team. Sometimes you just lose to a better team. Their coach said that was the best they played all year."
While they dropped in the semis, the fact of the matter was, the Jays were playing in the state semis.
The Jays didn't even have a shot at the state tournament last season, with their season ending in the final round of the West Region Tournament with a 3-0 loss to St. Mary's.
"Not getting to State last year was very hard on a lot of us," Newman said. "A lot of us worked really hard in the offseason. We worked out. We did the training, did volleyball camps -- did literally everything that we could. Obviously, that helped us get to where we are today."
All that training resulted in an incredible 17-3 conference and 33-7 overall record. The Jays were 6-1 in five-set matches and earned the No. 2 seed out of the West Region.
"I don't even know if we are completely over last year just because it was so heartbreaking," Hegerle said. "It wasn't our year last year and this year I think the girls put in the time beforehand and were really determined that they weren't going to let that happen again. You couldn't see it in this match. Haylie Hakanson was determined that no one was going to let her determine her fate. She was going to determine it all by herself.
"All of them did that, we did it collectively as a team. That's resilience and maturity. We decided to take a different route to end our journey."
Big digs, scrappy net play and dynamic attacking is how the Jamestown High School volleyball team has played all season but Saturday, it was for a trophy.
While Legacy's firepower seemed to be sleeping in sets No. 2 and 3, the Sabers turned on the jets in the fifth. Three consecutive attack errors on the Jays gave the Sabers a 4-1 lead early in the fifth which soon turned into a 7-2 advantage for Legacy.
"I was definitely nervous because we were playing iffy and not to our full potential," Newman said. "Down 6-2, it was like 'ahhhh' but we pulled it together. We took a deep breath and I told everyone to not even look at the score. We just wanted to play Blue Jay volleyball. People know that we tend to come back and it was awesome."
The Blue Jays kept chipping away at the lead, rattling off five straight to tie things up at seven apiece.
"I wanted to win so bad," senior libero Aspyn Peterson said. "My emotions were really high but I got all of my tears out in the locker room beforehand and I just knew my team was going to do it. I got a little nervous in the fifth set because we were down but once we tied it and I got back on the court I knew we were going to do it."
Peterson ended her time as a Blue Jay with an incredible 26 digs, 3 assists, an ace and a kill.
A kaboom type-kill from Hakanson gave the Jays' a one-point advantage up 9-8.
Things went back and forth the next couple of points. Legacy tied things up at nine then again at 10 at which point the Jays rattled off three in a row to give them their largest lead of the set.
Legacy came within two but Jamestown notched a 14-11 lead bringing up what would be the final point of their season.
Edie Hegerle served the ball, Legacy returned it, Jamestown received it, and Hegerle set up Nold who knocked one off of the block.
"When we were down 7-2 I didn't think we were done," Hegerle said. "All of those times that we were up and down playing prepared us. When Edie went in and got her serve in on set point, that was huge because that's a lot of pressure for a sophomore. It was a great feeling as a mom and a coach."
Hegerle was credited with two aces, 24 assists and 24 digs. Makenna Nold dished out 26 assists and popped up 16 digs.
Unphased, Legacy set up an attacker who drove one to the cross-court corner which could have easily made it a 14-12 ball game.
That is if Jamestown hadn't done what it has all year — win in five.
Hegerle received the attack, Nold set it outside and Newman smashed cross-court to seal the final kill of the match and of her prep career.
"I was like, let's go!" Newman said with a fist pump. "It was a great feeling to hit that ball and get the last kill of my career."
Newman finished out her career with a 24-kill, 21-dig performance. She also tallied three blocks. The senior led the entire West Region in kills this season. Newman is still undecided as to her college plans but the is seeking offers to play collegiate volleyball.
"Playing for third, that felt like it was the championship match but our kids weren't tight because they weren't playing for a championship," Hegerle said. "They just played. It was a perfect way to end the season, playing in a five-setter on the biggest stage in North Dakota."
Jamestown 3, Legacy 2
JHS 16 27 25 15 25
LEG 25 25 18 25 11
JHS — Kills: Bernadette Newman 24, Makenna Nold 11, Haylie Hakanson 10, Benet Fronk 8, Kinley Anderson 4, Leah Trumbauer 2, Edie Hegerle 1, Aspyn Peterson 1. Assists: Nold 26, Hegerle 24, Peterson 3. Digs: Peterson 26, Hegerle 24, Newman 21, Nold 16, Fronk 9, Rylee Joseph 6, Breanna Oettle 3, Leah Trumbauer 1, Anderson 1.Blocks: Nold 4, Newman 3, Anderson 2, Hakanson 1, Trumbauer 1. Aces: Oettle 2, Nold 2, Hegerle 2, Peterson 1.
LEG — Kills: Asiah Gross 14, Halle Severson 10, Chelsa Krom 9, Reese Duchsherer 8, Brooklyn Brendel 5, Madison Colby 4, Aleah McPerson 2, Brooklynn Flechle 1. Assists: Colby 25, Duchsherer 20, JoAnna Fleckenstein 2, Severson 1. Digs: Fleckenstein 22, Duchsherer 16, Colby 13, Paisley Kleven 12, McPherson 9, Gross 8, Severson 2, Brendel 2, Anna Sorenson 2, Krom 1.