Annie Nabwe had basketball and track and field pretty well handled her junior year, but coming into her senior campaign it is pretty obvious she has figured out the world of volleyball too.
"She's not even there yet, she's still learning," Jamestown High School head coach Sara Hegerle said of the senior's potential. "She can apply the littlest things and make adjustments. She's a great athlete and a great kid."
Nabwe helped lead the Jays to the team's second-straight sweep of the WDA season, topping Dickinson 25-14, 25-22, 25-13. Jamestown is now 2-0 on the year in regular-season contests. The Midgets are evenly split at 1-1.
The Jays' next test will come on Thursday at Bismarck Legacy. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m.
For just a couple of minutes after set No. 2, Hegerle didn't know if the Blue Jays would have Nabwe at their disposal the rest of the season.
The Jays were up 24-22, a ball passed out from senior Katie Trumbauer found the 5-foot-9 right side and Nabwe crushed it off the tape, sending the ball spinning to the floor. After the whistle signaled the end to the second set, Nabwe collapsed to the ground clutching her leg and had to be helped off the court by Hegerle and a trainer.
Nabwe did not return to the floor but did return to the bench -- walking under her own power-- for the third and final set. No details regarding the injury have been disclosed at this time. Nabwe finished her night with three kills and three stops at the net.
"I thought it was her knee so I got really scared," Hegerle said of Nabwe going down. "It sounds like it was her ankle. She's already walking on it so I think she'll be fine for next week."
Sophomore setter Makenna Nold stepped in for Nabwe, a theme that has become common among this year's squad.
Like any team on the night of their home opener, the Jays showed some nerves early on. Hegerle's squad is relatively inexperienced, especially on defense as the Jays are without three-year starting libero Rachel Schiele this season. The Midgets took advantage of shaky passes and hammered some balls past the defense, making it a 5-4 game early on.
Schiele, now a freshman on the University of Jamestown's volleyball team, would have been proud of how her former teammate Jenna Fischer responded.
Fischer, a three-year varsity team member, popped up 12 balls on defense, helping the Jays to a 6-0 run midway through the first to make it 14-7 in favor of the home team. Fischer's passes up to setters Katie Trumbauer and Makenna Nold helped fuel a dynamic Blue Jay offense that put the first away 25-14.
"When I told her she had a shot at the libero position, her jaw dropped," Hegerle said of Fischer. "That kid can hit, block, serve tough and plays good defense. I think she picked up her leadership today too.
"She's been kind of uncomfortable in that position, and anybody would be, especially when you are following Rachel Schiele. Those are big shoes but she did a nice job."
While Fischer and the Jays' defense found the right rhythm in the first and third sets, game No. 2 was a little more off key.
Missed serves and miscommunications helped Dickinson stay in the second. Trumbauer said the Jays have been working on serving tough in practice, explaining that when you are trying to serve tough, sometimes the ball escapes the court lines. The missed balls caused some mental errors to surface and Midget senior Taya Hopfauf took advantage firing a cross-court shot that tied it up at 13 apiece, forcing Hegerle to take a timeout.
"When you miss a couple serves, then you focus on not missing," Hegerle said. "We are going to go through moments like that. These kids are students of the game, they are willing to learn and they're willing to apply what they are learning -- you can't ask for more than that."
Whatever Hegerle said to her squad must have worked as the Jays came away with a 4-0 run, which caused another break in the action. A few more Blue Jay mental mistakes helped the Midgets claw back and tie the game on four different occasions, but the home team kept on enough pressure all the way through the third to pick up the sweep.
"I think we kind of came out thinking this was hopefully a guaranteed win," Trumbauer said. "That second set kind of scared us a little bit, but I think we kind of figured it out in the third set. This team is capable of a lot. It was so much fun tonight, the energy was awesome."
Jamestown 3, Dickinson 0
DHS 14 22 13
JHS 25 25 25
DHS -- Kills: Hopfauf 6, Caton Pearcy 9. Assists: Staci Kempenich 17. Digs: Kempenich 11, Reese Hauck 10, Hopfauf 10, Makenna Eckelberg 8, Pearcy 6, Sadie Stevenson 1. Aces: Eckelberg 1. Blocks: Jenna Decker 1, Stevenson 1.
JHS -- Kills: Hunter Petersen 8, Bernadette Newman 8, Katie Falk 7, Haylie Hakanson 6, Trumbauer 4, Nabwe 3, Nold 3. Assists: Trumbauer 19, Nold 6. Digs: Fischer 12, Aspyn Peterson 6, Newman 4, Jada Walter 3, Rylee Joseph 3, Kaia Dillman 2, Trumbauer 1, Falk 1, Nold 1. Aces: Nold 4, Joseph 3, Peterson 2, Fischer 1. Blocks: Nabwe 3, Hakanson 3, Trumbauer 2, Falk 2.
Records: Dickinson 1-1; Jamestown 2-0.