West Fargo rides fast start to Class A quarterfinal volleyball sweep over St. Mary’s
If West Fargo had any opening-round jitters on Thursday, the Packers sure didn’t show it.
BISMARCK — If West Fargo had any opening-round jitters on Thursday, the Packers sure didn’t show it. West Fargo entered the Class A state volleyball tournament as the East Region’s top seed, and wasted no time showing it deserved the designation.
The Packers downed Bismarck St. Mary’s in three sets (25-13, 25-19, 25-20) on Thursday at Bismarck Event Center to earn a spot in the state semifinals for the second straight season.
“It’s a pretty great feeling to play so well in the first round and get it done in three, and now the rest of the day we can just focus on the match tomorrow,” said senior outside hitter Nadia Chwialkowski. “I’m really proud of how we played.”
West Fargo (27-7) will play West No. 2 seed Bismarck High in the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday at Bismarck Event Center.
The Packers set the tone for the quarterfinal matchup early as they jumped out to a 10-2 lead over No. 4 West seed St. Mary’s with points from four different players.
“Our offense was really good. We mixed it up a lot,” Chwialkowski said. “They didn’t know where we were coming from. We just came out strong, and I think that’s a really great part of our team. We’re really good at starting fast.”
The Packers used that strength to clinch their sixth sweep in a row. West Fargo mounted a decisive 16-4 lead in the first set and never looked back. The Packers didn’t let St. Mary’s get more than one point in a row until late in the frame.
St. Mary’s had no answer for West Fargo’s offense, which is led by Chwialkowski and boasts some firepower. Chwialkowski, who pummeled the Saints from start to finish in the first set, drilled 15 kills in the match.
“We were mixing it up. We weren’t always going to the middle, the outside or the right side,” senior outside hitter Mary Schnell said. “We had that good mix up of who was hitting.”
The Saints evaded three set points in the first frame and carried that momentum into the second. Neither side got out front by more than a point until halfway through the frame. The Packers used a 7-0 run to pull away late in the match and grab a 17-12 lead that they never relinquished.
The Saints, trailing by two sets after West Fargo’s 25-19 second-set win, didn’t go away quietly. St. Mary’s tried to claw back in the back-and-forth third set and took a 15-13 lead. The Saints got a boost from a lively and spirited bench and packed student section.
The Packers, down by two points, came out swinging after a timeout and put together an 8-2 run to regain the advantage for good. Chwialkowski and Chloe Pfau, a junior middle hitter, had three kills apiece in the spurt. Pfau totaled 10 kills and three blocks in the match.
"We talked about what we could do to fix it," Schnell said of the timeout. "As we were playing we were talking about it and that got us out of the hole we were in."
"No one was going to do it for us. We had to do it for ourselves. We were just like OK, let’s just get this done," Chwialkowski added.
Schnell paced the Packers with a team-high 21 digs.