Sara Hegerle's six seniors were in the spotlight more than once Thursday night at Jerry Meyer Arena.
After Annie Nabwe, Hunter Petersen, Allie Panchot, Katie Trumbauer, Kaia Dillman and Jenna Fischer's debut National Anthem performance, the Blue Jay volleyball squad took down Minot 25-16, 31-29, 27-25. The sweep improved the Jays' conference record to 8-4 while overall the team is 14-5.
Jamestown will be in action this weekend at the Fargo Scheels Tournament in Fargo. Tourney action is slated to begin Friday at 5 p.m. with a match against Grand Forks Central. Final stats from Friday's games were unavailable when the Jamestown Sun went to press.
"I am really glad that this is not the last game they will play here," Hegerle said. "That way they can enjoy this night and not have the pressure of saying goodbye on the last night they play here. This program means something to them. This is a family."
Nabwe was an essential part of the family business against the Majettes.
"She's intimidating," Hegerle said of the three-sport athlete. "We switched her from sitting on the bench right away to being in the game right away to see if that would maybe get her going earlier. We are 2-0 with that lineup, but we'll see how it goes in Fargo."
Nabwe missed a good chunk of her inaugural season last year due to COVID-19 protocols and as a result, didn't get to see a lot of court time to develop her raw talent. After a summer dedicated to the Jays' strength and conditioning program and time spent practicing in summer volleyball camps, the senior three-sport athlete has become a force to be reckoned with upfront.
Nabwe has recorded 68 total kills this season, averaging 6.8 per match -- the third most on the squad. Nabwe has led the team defensively at the net, making 23 blocks -- averaging 2.09 per match.
"I think you've got to practice to keep getting better," Nabwe said. "I don't think I've reached my full potential. I've got to keep working and doing everything I can in practice to keep getting better."
While Nabwe and the Jays ended up on top, Minot was hot early, rattling off a 5-0 run that put them ahead 9-4.
Jamestown crawled its way back from the five-point deficit. Makenna Nold's bullet for an arm pulled the Jays' within one. A couple of plays later, a double contact on Minot setter Cambry Frantsvog tied it at 10 apiece. A five-point run by the Jays that put the home team up 16-12 began to unravel the Majettes' offense.
"We met our goal -- the whole team did," Hegerle said. "It's easy to have energy when you are winning and when you win you have more energy. That has been our goal since last week."
Nabwe kept the Blue Jay spark burning, hammering six balls past Minot's defenses to help the Jays to a 23-13 lead. Petersen joined in the action, recording nine kills while Panchot smashed one off the block. The team tabulated 42 kills and hit at 0.189. Bernadette Newman pulled out all the stops, delivering on 14 kills.
While the Majettes were able to pull off a 4-2 run toward the end, it was clear the Blue Jays were in control of the final stretch.
Up 24-18, everyone in Jerry Meyer Arena thought Jamestown was going to easily cruise to a second set win.
But the Majettes had other plans.
Not only did the Minot go on an unanswered six-point run, to tie it at 24 and force extra points, but the visitors also managed to keep the Jays on the ropes taking a 27-26 and 28-27 lead. The nervous energy pulsing through Hegerle's veins was released after Haylie Hakanson ended the drawn-out second frame with a pair of kills.
"In the past, we have lost those close sets," Hegerle said. "Tonight was a good showing of the grit and resilience of our team. That will carry through the rest of the season."
Momentum was certainly on the Jays' side, winning the first two and beginning the third with a 9-1 run. Complacency and mental bobbles took ahold of the Jays' game, as Minot crept back in to get within two of the game leaders.
"Minot is fighting for points," Hegerle said. "I think they were out of system more because we were serving tougher."
Minot was on the Jays' heels all through the third, coming as close as taking a 25-24 lead. Evenson tested the Jays' back three sending rolls, tips and hard kills down the line.
Some hard serves from the back line and good reads of the defense put Minot in a prime position to take the third but it wasn't happening on the Blue Jays' watch
Hakanson made a block to end the third 27-25.
"I thought we played well," Hegerle said. "We didn't make a lot of errors and when we did we regrouped and turned things around.
"Tonight honoring all six of those seniors with a win, that's really the best thing we could do."
Jamestown 3, Minot 0
MIN 16 29 25
JHS 25 31 27
MIN -- Stats not provided.
JHS -- Kills: Bernadette Newman 14, Hunter Petersen 9, Nabwe 6, Haylie Hakanson 5, Katie Falk 4, Katie Trumbauer 3, Allie Panchot 1. Assists: Trumbauer 31, Makenna Nold 5. Digs: Jenna Fischer 15, Jada Walter 9, Makenna Nold 8, Aspyn Peterson 7, Trumbauer 5, Rylee Joseph 4, Petersen 3, Nabwe 3, Falk 2, Newman 2, Panchot 2, Hakanson 1. Aces: Nold 4, Joseph 1, Walter 1, Trumbauer 1. Blocks: Nabwe 4, Newman 2, Petersen 1, Hakanson 1, Falk 1.
Records: Jamestown 14-5, 8-4 WDA; Minot 5-14, 3-9.