The Valley City State volleyball team advanced to the NSAA semifinals in dramatic fashion Tuesday night, scoring the final seven points to rally for a five-set victory over Dickinson State.
VCSU trailed Dickinson 14-9 in the decisive fifth set, but the Vikings held off five straight match points by the Blue Hawks and scored the final seven points for a 16-14 victory.
The Vikings, seeded No. 4 in the tournament, defeated the Blue Hawks by scores of 25-19, 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 16-14.
VCSU (12-21) advances to the North Star Athletic Association semifinals which will be played Friday at top seed Viterbo University. The Vikings will play Viterbo University. No. 2 seed Bellevue University will play No. 3 Jamestown in the other semifinal. The winners of each semifinal will play Saturday for the NSAA Championship.
Dickinson State ends its season with a 12-20 overall record.
After VCSU built a 2-1 lead with a 25-20 victory in set three, the Blue Hawks responded in game four. Tied at 20-20, the Blue Hawks scored five of the final seven points to secure a 25-22 victory and even the match. That momentum continued into set five as the Blue Hawks built 7-1 and 10-3 leads. VCSU cut the lead to 12-9, but the Blue Hawks pushed it back to 14-9 and appeared to have the match in the bag after a block by Sydney Bentz and Shelby Gustafson.
The Vikings had other ideas though. After getting a critical "touch" call to go in their favor, the Vikings got back-to-back aces by Hailie Wilds to pull within 14-12. A kill by Nicolette Bloomer and a Dickinson error evened the match at 14-14. Bloomer and Megan Johnson combined for a block to give VCSU a 15-14 lead, and then Johnson put the match away with a booming kill that sent the Vikings and their crowd into a frenzy.
The Vikings had contributions throughout the lineup on Tuesday as four players reached double-digit kills and five players had double-digit digs. Taylor Sharp led VCSU with 16 kills and a .256 hitting percentage. Megan Johnson pounded 12 kills – including the match winner – and both Clarissa Olson and Nicolette Bloomer each had 10 kills. Bloomer and Olson combined for 7.5 of VCSU's 10 block points, and Bloomer also led the Vikings with six service aces.
Viking setter Taylor Balkan had 48 assists and 15 digs. Libero Jaycee George led the team with 24 digs. Leah Ruter had 16 digs and seven kills, and Charlotte Huschka had 11 digs and three aces. Hailie Wilds posted 10 digs and served four aces, including a pair of aces that helped spur the Viking comeback in set five.
Dickinson State topped the Vikings in both hitting percentage, .144 to .085, and blocks, 16-10. VCSU had 14 service aces and nine errors, while Dickinson had just three aces and seven errors.
The Blue Hawks were led by 10 kills from Sydney Bentz. Shelby Gustafson posted nine kills and six block points, and both Ellie Hanser and Danielle Boyette added eight kills. Shaylee Singleton posted a team-high 26 digs for Dickinson, and Keera Stookey had a strong match with 19 assists, 12 digs and two aces.
Up next: Valley City State travels to Viterbo University for the NSAA semifinals on Friday.