A back row flush with former North Dakota high school all-stars shined for 20th-ranked University of Jamestown women's volleyball over the weekend in Ashland, Ore.
The Jimmies' Sydney Ellingson, Hannah Schiele and Anna Holen played keep away with the court at Lithia Motors Pavilion on the campus of Southern Oregon University. As a result, Jamestown cruised to a 4-0 start to the season with wins over Lewis-Clark State College (3-2 match), Oregon Institute of Technology (3-1), No. 18 Vanguard University (3-1) and No. 6 Southern Oregon (3-1) during the Southern Oregon Raider Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
"We served so tough all weekend, and we passed and defended so well," said UJ coach Jon Hegerle during a layover Sunday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "Sydney Ellingson as libero, Hannah Schiele ... she was on JV last year but, man, did she play well ... and then Anna Holen. Those three really anchored our back row and other teams just couldn't get balls down on us."
Hegerle said two of the three defensive specialists were manning the back at all times, and there isn't a senior in the bunch. Ellingson is a junior product from the highly-regarded Langdon/Edmore/Munich program, while Holen is a sophomore and a former Class B player of the year from LaMoure, and Schiele is a sophomore and former all-state player for the Jamestown Blue Jays.
The trio turned up 83 digs on day 2, as the Jimmies knocked off both Vanguard (Calif.) and the host team Raiders. At 7-2 overall, Vanguard's hitting percentage against the Jimmies was a paltry .098. Southern Oregon, with NAIA All-Americans Makayla Hoyt and Taylor Ristvedt at the net, fell to 5-1 overall.
Hegerle said after a short preseason and some flat practices between white water rafting in Oregon, there were a few concerns entering the weekend. But 40 kills on the weekend by junior outside Ellie Michaletz, and an additional 41 kills and 18 blocks turned in by senior middle Britta Knudson, a Bismarck native, helped ease any doubt.
The Jimmies brushed off a shaky 3-2 start Friday over Lewis-Clark (Idaho) with a four-set defeat of Oregon Tech.
"The second concern was that every team that we played had already played last weekend," Hegerle added. "So we knew that we were going to be a step behind. But the one thing I like about this group, the kids never get too down. We just keep plugging away."
UJ senior outside Jordan Thomas was injured late against Oregon Tech after posting 10 kills in the match, but sophomore Taylor Sabinash filled in admirably on day 2. Sabinash turned in a combined six kills and seven blocks in her first varsity action, which happened to come against two nationally-recognized teams.
Thomas and Sabinash add more local flavor to the Jimmies. Thomas is from nearby Pingree, virtually within shouting distance of Sabinash's hometown of Kensal.
"Taylor came in and played right side, and that was a concern because she hadn't played at that level yet," Hegerle said of the 6-foot-1 Sabinash. "But she did a great job energy-wise, blocking and hit some nice balls.
"It took a couple matches, but (Saturday) we were firing on all cylinders and it was a lot of fun."
UJ will look to keep riding the wave this weekend at the Bellevue University Labor Day Classic in Bellevue, Nebraska. The Jimmies will first face (RV) Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) at the Lied Activity Center on Friday, Aug. 30. Jamestown will also see 16th-ranked Aquinas College (Mich.) and (RV) Embry-Riddle (Ariz.).
"We play three teams that are garnering national attention, so we're looking forward to that," Hegerle said. "Right now our basement is pretty high and I think that's a good thing. Stuff that we rely on is foundational and it's not gonna be shaken."
Southern Oregon Raider Invitational
At Ashland, Ore.
(20) Jamestown 3, (18) Vanguard 1
VU 19 19 27 14
UJ 25 25 25 25
VU -- Kills: Aubryn Coale 11, Hailey Petersen 11. Assists: Kirstin Trabert 21, Callista Noel 20. Digs: Sam Rice 33.
UJ -- Kills: Ellie Michaletz 13, Anna Holen 8, Britta Knudson 7, Corina Ruud 7. Assists: Jackie Meiklejohn 19, Miranda Lowman 17. Aces: Holen 2. Digs: Holen 20, Sydney Ellingson 16, Hannah Schiele 15. Blocks: Knudson 8, Holen 5, Isabel Wedell 4.
Records: Jamestown 3-0, Vanguard 6-2.
(20) Jamestown 3, (6) Southern Oregon 1
UJ 25 25 21 25
SO 21 23 25 18
UJ -- Kills: Michaletz 13, Wedell 12, Knudson 10, Ruud 8, Holen 7. Assists: Lowman 25, Meiklejohn 24. Aces: Lowman 2. Digs: Ellingson 14, Holen 12. Blocks: Knudson 5, Taylor Sabinash 4, Ruud 4.
SO -- Taylor Ristvedt 18, Nila Lukens 15, Elliott Cook 12. Assists: Tehani Faitau 32, Kadyn Jones 21. Digs: Emma Ryan 28. Blocks: Makayla Hoyt 5.
Records: Jamestown 4-0. Southern Oregon 5-2.
(20) University of Jamestown 3, Lewis-Clark State College 2
LC 21 27 25 15 9
UJ 25 25 19 25 15
LCSC -- Kills: Tori Edwards 17, Brooke Kaawa 16, Sydney Lawrence 7. Assists: Jess Ruffing 36. Digs: Gionni Brown 27, Hannah Pond 15, Kaawa 14.
Jamestown -- Kills: Wedell 12, Michaletz 10, Ruud 9, Knudson 9. Assists: Meiklejohn 25, Lowman 23. Digs: Holen 25, Schiele 16, Meiklejohn 15, Ellingson 12.
Records: Jamestown 1-0. LCSC 2-1.
(20) University of Jamestown 3, Oregon Tech 1
UJ 25 22 25 25
OT 15 25 13 14
Jamestown -- Kills: Knudson 15, Jordan Thomas 10, Wedell 5. Assists: Lowman 21, Meiklejohn 13. Digs: Schiele 22, Ellingson 21, Holen 13. Blocks: Ruud 5, Knudson 3.
OT -- Camryn Johnson 12, Kaylin Talonen 10. Assists: Jaime Toedtemeier 28. Digs: Aubrey Kievit 16, Nicole Reyes 17. Blocks: Faith Houck-Wylie 5, Ashley Ripplinger 5.
Records: Jamestown 2-0. Oregon Tech 3-1.