Bismarck Century wins fourth straight volleyball title

Bismarck Century got its volleyball four-peat at the Minot State Dome Saturday night, but Mandan made the Patriots earn it.
With much of the near full house cheering for Mandan, the Patriots put together a clutch 9-0 run in the fourth set to erase an 11-7 deficit before closing out the set, and match, 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 25-18.
“We know people don’t want us to win, we understand that and that’s OK,” said junior Lauren Ware, who tied her own state championship match record with 27 kills. “Putting on this Century Patriots jersey means and lot to the people that wear it. There’s a history and tradition behind it and part of that means teams really want to beat us. We just try to embrace that and add it to the challenge.”
Mandan mounted a spirited defense, despite falling behind 2-0. Two kills by Olivia Moe to end the third set gave the Braves a 26-24 victory and handed Century its first, and only, setback of the tournament.
“The past few weeks we’ve had our backs against the wall multiple times whether it’s down in the match or down in the set, but the girls have been really good about sticking with it and continuing to plug away,” Mandan coach Anna Folk said. “Obviously getting down 2-0 to them is not an ideal situation, but the girls were never frustrated or panicked they just went back out there and made a match of it.”
It looked like it might even go the distance.
Two errors by the Patriots, an ace by Megan Zander and a kill from Sydney Walters put Mandan up 11-7 in the fourth set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. But the Patriots answered in a big way, scoring the next nine points, the last two on back-to-back aces by Chloe Markovic, the second of which made it 16-11 Century.
“We called a timeout and told them, ‘This crowd had nothing to do with you getting here and they’re not going to have nothing to do with how we finish.’ But we have young players and they haven’t really experienced anything like that and it’s hard,” said Century coach Jamie Zastoupil. “We pulled it off with a rotation we’ve really struggled with all year long. We ended on that all three sets at the state tournament, but those young players really stepped up and finished it off for us.”

UND’s playoff hopes sink as Northern Arizona upsets Fighting Hawks 31-16

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — University of North Dakota football followers spent the week trying to decode what needed to happen for the Fighting Hawks to make the FCS playoffs.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, the UND football team took care of the most important angle of postseason scenarios.
The Fighting Hawks didn’t hold up their end of any postseason scenario by falling 31-16 to struggling Northern Arizona at Walkup Skydome in the regular-season finale.
UND ended the regular season 6-5, while NAU finished 4-6.
With a poor offensive performance, UND had one final shot to come back in the fourth quarter when safety Jordan Canady intercepted an NAU pass with a little more than seven minutes remaining and NAU hanging on to an eight-point lead.
On third-and-2, UND running back Brady Oliveira was stuffed for no gain near midfield with 6:56 to play.
UND coach Bubba Schweigert elected to punt, and the Hawks never got the ball back in a one-score game.
Cory Young scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap an 80-yard, 13-play drive. Young’s score gave the Lumberjacks a 31-16 lead with 1:01 remaining.
UND struggled against an opponent playing a converted wide receiver at quarterback. NAU played its third- and fourth-string quarterbacks against the Hawks.
UND had a nightmare start. The Hawks fell behind 17-0 in the first half and 14-0 after the first quarter.
Northern Arizona started the scoring with a 9-yard run by Aramis Aldredge. Less than four minutes later, after UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham threw an interception over the middle of the field, Lumberjacks quarterback Brandon Porter found Emmanuel Butler for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead.
UND received a gift to swing momentum in the first half. NAU punt returner Justis Stokes muffed a punt midway through the second quarter, a fumble that was recovered by UND’s Hayden Blubaugh at the NAU 29.
On third-and-14 from the 21, Ketteringham connected with Noah Wanzek on an out route in the back corner of the end zone. The touchdown connection cut the NAU lead to 17-7 with 5:37 to halftime.
UND further cut into the NAU lead on its next drive thanks to a 34-yard Brady Oliveira screen pass and two pass interference penalties.
The drive was capped by a Brady Leach 35-yard field goal to make it 17-10 with 2:54 left in the second quarter.
The Hawks, who have relied on a ground game, rushed for only 128 yards on 41 attempts. Santiago finished with 55 yards on 12 attempts while Oliveira ended with 18 yards on eight rushes.
UND also struggled throwing the ball as well. Ketteringham completed 13 of 29 attempts for 109 yards. But he also had two interceptions.
Neither team had a big offensive day. UND finished with 192 yards of offense while NAU ended with 270.
Each team had eight punts on the day.
The NCAA FCS playoff pairings will be released today.
UND was attempting to make the 24-team field after an injury-riddled 2017 season that ended 3-8.
UND did make the FCS playoffs in 2016, falling at home to Richmond in the opening round.

No. 1-ranked Bison cruise to victory, cap undefeated regular season

FARGO — North Dakota State put an exclamation point on an undefeated regular season Saturday afternoon, Nov. 17, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The No. 1-ranked Bison piled up more than 600 yards and steamrolled to a 65-17 victory against Southern Illinois in Missouri Valley Football Conference play before 18,008 fans.
The Bison (11-0, 8-0 MVFC) will get a first-round bye in opening round of the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, which start next weekend.
“It’s incredibly difficult to do, especially in our league,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said of an undefeated regular season. “It’s something that’s really special. … We’re judged by what we do in the postseason, but it’s cool to do this in the regular season.”
The playoff field will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, on ESPNU. NDSU is expected to get the No. 1 seed, after capping the regular season with a dominating performance.
The 65 points were the most the Bison have scored in a Missouri Valley game since they joined the league in 2008.
“We’re getting better every week,” said Bison senior safety Robbie Grimsley, who had two interceptions against the Salukis. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
Grimsley was one of the many of the Bison seniors who had big games on senior day. Senior quarterback Easton Stick completed 16 of 21 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Stick also rushed for a score.
“We’ll just keep grinding and get ready for the first one,” Stick said. “I feel really good about this group. ”
The Bison bolted to a 35-14 halftime lead and weren’t threatened in the second half. Both teams delivered big plays early, but NDSU gained the upper hand during a first-quarter scoring frenzy. It started in the opening seconds after Southern Illinois’ Je’Quan Burton returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
The Bison countered quickly with running back Ty Brooks’ 36-yard scoring run, which capped a 79-yard drive that took just 1 minute, 44 seconds. The Bison took less time to take a 14-7 lead. A 32-yard pass from Stick to senior receiver Darrius Shepherd set up Stick’s 1-yard touchdown run to complete a drive that lasted 1:09.
The Salukis responded. Senior quarterback Matt DeSomer found wide receiver Raphael Leonard on a quick slant that he turned into a 59-yard scoring play tied it at 14-14 with 8:36 to play in the first quarter.
NDSU continued to light up the scoreboard from there, using its tight ends to build a two-touchdown lead. Stick found senior Nate Jenson for a 60-yard score and then followed that with a 22-yard scoring toss to a wide open Ben Ellefson, a junior from Hawley, Minn.
Ellefson’s scored made it 28-14 with 6:21 to play in the first quarter.
The Bison took a 35-14 lead into halftime after a 31-yard TD pass from Stick to Shepherd early in the second quarter. Stick completed 13 of 17 passes for 266 yards and three scores in the first half alone.
“Great performance by our guys,” Klieman said. “I’m so proud of these 24 seniors. … They challenge each other. They challenge the young guys. It’s hard to beat.”
NDSU continued to pour it on in third quarter with a pair of touchdown runs from senior running back Bruce Anderson and a safety, which came after the Salukis snapped the ball over the head of their punter and out of the end zone. Anderson’s 30-yard scoring burst gave the Bison a 51-14 lead with 8:48 to play in the third quarter.
Anderson said the Bison won’t change their mindset too much entering the postseason.
“We’ll back off the physical aspect of practice, but we don’t back off the mental aspect,” said Anderson, who rushed for 68 yards on 12 attempts.
Grimsley is tied for second in program history with 16 interceptions, tied with Tre Dempsey and Steve Krumrei. Former Bison cornerback Marcus Williams (2010-13) is the all-time leader with 21. The 663 yards rank sixth on NDSU’s all-time list for yards in a single game. It’s the most yards the Bison have gained in a MVFC game.
“We’ll enjoy this for the next week and then it’s time to get back to work and get ready for the next season,” Klieman said.

Clock strikes midnight on Cinderella Packers in state loss

West Fargo players and coaches admit even they were hesitant to think they could make a run to the semifinals of the Class A state volleyball tournament.
But with that unexpected goal out of the way, aspirations are likely to be set much higher in the coming years.
The Packers’ surprise late-season surge ended one win shy of the state championship match, as Mandan used late runs in the third and fourth sets to pull away for a 25-18, 18-25, 25-22, 25-17 win over West Fargo Friday in the Minot State Dome.
Tied at a set apiece, things appeared to be turning the Packers’ way in a topsy-turvy third set, when they took a 21-19 lead on a Halle Erickson ace.
But following a timeout, the Braves took complete control that featured 11 ties and six lead changes. Following a kill by Emily Tweten, Mandan took the lead back on consecutive errors by West Fargo.
The lead wouldn’t change hands again the rest of the match, as Mandan closed the third set on a 6-1 run, then opened the fourth with a surge of 6-2.
The Braves, who finished with a 58-43 edge in kills, continuously kept the Packers off balance with their size, as 5-foot-11 middle hitters Megan Zander and Lakyn Darras successfully neutralized the West Fargo net attack.
“They’re super smart and they just kind of play a different game than what we’re used to,” Packer Coach Kelsey Gibbons said of the Mandan defense. “They’re extremely athletic and big and that’s something we’re not used to seeing consistently. That just kind of got us on our heels.”
The Packers did have one last run in them, closing the fourth-set gap to 16-15. But a kill by Olivia Moe kick-started another Braves’ scoring run, this one 9-2, that punched their ticket to Saturday’s title game.
Following a seven-kill, two-block performance in the fifth set of a win over Jamestown, Mariah Schatz again led the Packer attack with 14 kills. Erickson and Katelyn Tveito led the distribution, finishing with 20 and 16 assists respectively.
With just one senior starter and a record hovering around .500 at the midway point of the season, Gibbons said there was plenty to celebrate following Friday’s loss, despite seeing the Cinderella run wrap up one night earlier than she was hoping.
“I don’t think our team should hang their head on anything,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people thought that we would have gotten to the tournament, let alone get to the semis. It’s something that our kids should be extremely proud of.”
Sophomore hitter Erin Binstock, one of five key contributing sophomores, believes the best is yet to come, giving an emphatic answer when asked if this group could one day win a state championship.
“Yes,” she said. ““I think we have the skillset and the teamwork to win a championship in the future. We know that we can make it this far again and probably further.”
Before turning their attention to next year, the Packers face Fargo Davies in the third-place game at approximately 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Stick continues to learn the QB trade from Wentz

FARGO — Every day Easton Stick shows up for work at the North Dakota State football complex, a part of Carson Wentz also comes with him. Give the Bison quarterback and his teammates credit for Stick’s 44-3 record as a starter, but also give an assist to Wentz.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has been a close mentor to Stick for five years now. The first two years came during Wentz’s junior and senior seasons at NDSU, when Wentz taught the young prodigy that there’s more to being a quarterback than knowing the playbook and taking the center snap.
It’s the other stuff that counts; the hours spent behind closed doors. Wentz taught Stick how to think like a quarterback.
“I think the biggest thing he learned from Carson is how to watch video, how to break defenses down and what they’re looking for,” said Bison assistant coach Randy Hedberg, who handles the quarterbacks. “How a linebacker might be playing in the ‘A’ gap, how they line up, how a safety lines up, how a corner lines up, where his eyes are — those sorts of things.”
It wouldn’t make for a good ESPN “30 for 30” feature. There’s not much in the line of compelling storytelling of Stick and Wentz sitting in a room for hours watching film. Wentz was the No. 2 overall draft choice in the 2016 NFL draft, but that didn’t mean he cut ties with Stick and NDSU.
The two still talk football. Just how much is between them, but probably more than anybody would think.
“He’s obviously pretty busy but yeah, absolutely,” Stick said.
Asked what Wentz taught him, Stick said, “A ton. And continues to.”
Stick couldn’t have hand-picked a better situation when he signed his letter of intent in the winter of 2014 out of Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Neb. It wasn’t the smoothest of times at NDSU football with former head coach Craig Bohl on his way to Wyoming and defensive coordinator Chris Klieman named as the head coach.
Stick said his first reaction was one of being shocked. He wondered if his scholarship was going to be honored. A home visit from Klieman, however, settled everything.
“It was a piece of cake, a no-brainer to come to Fargo,” Stick said.
He spent his true freshman season learning the trade from quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg, Wentz and backup quarterback Cole Davis. The Bison took Stick on road trips so he could be around the quarterback braintrust as much as possible.
He took over for Wentz halfway through the 2015 season when Wentz broke a bone in his wrist. Stick went 8-0 as the starter.
Wentz came back for the FCS national title game against Jacksonville State (Ala.), but Stick has been in the lineup since. The Bison went 12-2 his sophomore year, 14-1 and a national title last season and are 10-0 heading into Saturday’s Missouri Valley Football Conference regular season finale against Southern Illinois.
That’s 44 victories with Stick starting under center.
“I know one thing, the kid just wants to win,” Klieman said. “We talk about that all the time. I just so appreciate watching him prepare starting Monday and going all through the week.”
If the Bison win out, Stick will surpass former Bison standout Brock Jensen as the all-time FCS quarterback wins leader. Jensen won 48 games from 2010-13. Armanti Edwards won 43 at Appalachian State from 2006-09, J.R. Revere won 42 at Georgia Southern from 1998-01 and Eric Ward won 41 at Richmond from 2006-09.
Stick has completed 113 of 195 passes for 1,792 yards, 19 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Like Hedberg alluded to, those numbers won’t wow voters for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top offensive player in FCS. The voters also don’t see NDSU’s offense often going conservative in the second half of several games this season because of big leads. Stick has been pulled in half of his team’s games in favor of a backup quarterback.
By all accounts, Stick is oblivious to records and honors. He didn’t know he tied Wentz, Steve Walker and Tony Stauss for the single-game record for touchdown passes last week with five against Missouri State.
When he’s not working on his MBA this week, you could probably find him studying the Saluki defense. Just like Wentz is studying the defense of Philadelphia’s opponent, the New Orleans Saints, this week.
Wentz is known in the NFL as a quarterback with a strong arm and great mind. Hedberg said Stick is trying his best to stay pace mentally with Wentz.
“He’s not too far behind Carson if not right with him,” Hedberg said. “He’s extremely good friends with Carson and I think Carson challenges him when they visit and work out together and I think that is the biggest thing. He wants to get to that level and that’s important to him.”

Defending champ Century drops Davies in state volleyball semifinals

Early in Friday’s Class A state volleyball tournament semifinal match, a Fargo Davies student was heard expressing a sentiment many coaches have likely felt when facing Bismarck Century star hitter Lauren Ware this season.
“It’s not fair.”
Arguably the most dominant player in the state, Ware came out firing, recording seven of her 16 kills in the first set while leading the Patriots one match closer to a fourth-straight state title with a 25-22, 25-16, 26-24 win over Davies.
Ware established dominance immediately in the first set. She blasted a kill on the opening possession of the first set and accounted for five of Century’s first six points by herself.
The Eagles didn’t go away quietly, pulling within a point on three separate occasions, even cutting the deficit to 23-22 on a kill by Kenzee Langlie.
But after an uncharacteristically sluggish stretch in which she committed three hitting errors, Ware recorded her seventh kill of the set. On the next series, Julia Fitterer, who added 12 kills of her own, found an opening and slammed home the final point.
Knowing her team needed to be sharp against such a potent attack, Coach Missy Wilson said the Eagles were done no favors by an uninspired early showing on defense.
“It’s a little disheartening some of the things we were lacking in the first set,” Wilson said. “We were late on our block and weren’t pushing over so they were constantly (outplaying) us.”
Moved off the front line, Ware still found a way to make her presence felt in set two. She gave the Patriots their first lead with back-to-back aces, then added an assist during what became a 6-0 run. Ware recorded four of her five aces in the second set.
Needing a last-gasp effort, the Eagles got one in set three, as a block by Natalie Hallstrom and Madison Langlie got them to set point and a 24-22 lead.
That point would be Davies’ last though, as the Patriots proceeded to score the next four. Following a Davies error, Ward tied the set with a kill, then Hailey Fletcher gave the Patriots the lead back with another, as Century finished with a 44-29 kill advantage.
“There was some fight that came out (in the third set), but in the end we just didn’t play at our top level,” said libero Averi Beyer, the lone Davies senior.
Langlie had a team-high 12 kills for the Eagles, while Maggie Krueger had 14 assists and five aces.
While everyone else on the Eagle roster will have a shot at redemption next year, Beyer’s career is nearing its end, and she says she’s looking forward to playing one more match at Davies, even if it’s not in the round she was hoping for.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity to end on a win,” she said.
The Eagles will face West Fargo in the Class A third-place game at 3 p.m. Saturday.

UND football’s season on the line at Northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Many of the recent FCS playoff scenarios circulating online by media prognosticators have been kind to the University of North Dakota.
The common view is the Fighting Hawks as a first-round host.
The only issue for UND and coach Bubba Schweigert? This is all assuming a victory.
UND (6-4 overall) needs to beat Northern Arizona (3-6 overall) Saturday, Nov. 17, in order to boost the chances of reaching the postseason for just the second time in the program’s Division I history. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
“I think everybody knows it’s a huge game,” UND senior running back John Santiago said. “We have a lot to play for.”
The Hawks aren’t guaranteed postseason inclusion with a victory.
The 24-team tournament includes 10 automatic bids awarded to conference champions and 14 at-large selections. The FCS Playoff Selection Show starts at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, on ESPNU.
The two primary games UND fans should monitor are Montana-Montana State (1 p.m. in Missoula) and Weber State-Idaho State (3:30 p.m. in Pocatello, Idaho).
The Fighting Hawks would be in a better position for postseason play if Montana and Weber State win those two matchups.
“The mentality is this: If you go get a positive result, you have a chance to move on,” Schweigert said. “The alternative … you don’t. We have to go out there and play downhill offensively and get in attack-mode defensively.”
Northern Arizona’s season has been derailed by injuries. All-Big Sky Conference quarterback Case Cookus has only played in two games this season after suffering a season-ending injury.
Backup Daniel Bridge-Gadd then played in seven games before suffering a season-ending injury, as well.
That means UND will either see third-string quarterback Gino Campiotti, a freshman quarterback who has thrown for 170 yards in two games played, or Brandon Porter, a freshman wide receiver, who has completed only 30 percent of his pass attempts (20 attempts).
“You have a number of things to prepare for because you don’t know exactly what they’re going to do,” Schweigert said.
In NAU’s last game, a 42-20 loss at UC Davis, Porter threw for 66 yards and the Lumberjacks ran the ball 66 times. Porter ran the ball 27 times for 157 yards.
Offense might be tough to come by for both teams. In UND’s win over Portland State last weekend, the Hawks only had 222 yards of total offense.
The Hawks’ passing game has been hampered the past two weeks with injuries.

Shanley falls to Mandan in five sets in state volleyball

Down 2-0 to Fargo Shanley, Mandan had to dig deep.
All-around ace Olivia Moe, one of seven Mandan seniors, had a better remedy for the Braves.
“We knew we could do it, we just had to get our heads out of our butts,” Moe said. “We have a very senior-heavy team. We try not to get too high or too low but getting down 2-0 wasn’t part of the plan.”
After Shanley took the first two sets 25-19, 25-20. Mandan’s march back included dominating wins in the third (25-12) and fifth (15-2) sandwiched around a competitive fourth frame (25-22).
“I just don’t think we were playing our game. We were passing poorly, they were serving aggressive, we just were back on our heels,” Mandan coach Anna Folk said. “We just kind of put our heads down, starting chipping away at it and decided we didn’t want to lose tonight. It was a great effort by the girls.”
It was all Mandan in the final set.
Shanley had four early errors. When Lakyn Darras blasted down a kill it was 6-1 and the Braves were on their way.
Megan Zander caught fire in the final two sets. The UND basketball recruit had a team-best 12 kills and a match-high four blocks. Moe stuffed the stat sheet with nine kills, 11 digs and a match-high three aces.
Fargo Shanley got big performances from Reile Payne and Grace Meier, both of whom posted 15 kills. Jordyn Stroup dished out 36 assists for the Deacons, who play Jamestown at 3 p.m. on Friday.
“It was two good teams having a great five-set match,” Shanley coach Curt Johnson said. “I’m proud of how we played. Our kids competed really, really hard against a very good team and we just came up a little bit short tonight.”
Packers, Schatz
survive Jamestown
in state opener
With one of the youngest teams in the Class A state volleyball tournament, West Fargo Coach Kelsey Gibbons has stressed the importance of leaning on her team’s lone senior starter Mariah Schatz.
That proved to be a good strategy Thursday.
Schatz recorded seven of her match-high 19 kills in the decisive fifth set, as the East top-seeded Packers survived a pesky Jamestown team 25-20, 22-25, 25-10, 22-25, 15-13 to win in Thursday’s opening round in the Minot State Dome.
Schatz was dominant from the start in set five, recording three kills as West Fargo built up a 4-1 lead.
As they did most of the night, the Blue Jays came charging back, as the set saw four lead changes and three ties. But Schatz eventually swung things back the Packers’ way, giving them a 9-8 lead on a block, then added another kill on the ensuing point.
Jamestown never made it easy, fighting off set point twice and getting within 14-13 on an ace by Kameron Selvig.
But it was Schatz again who finally pushed the Packers back into the semifinals, blasting the final point on yet another kill.
“I was really feeling it,” Schatz said. “I was just thinking ‘put the ball down and terminate’ the whole time. When coach looks at me and says ‘Mariah, you’ve got to put the ball down’ I’m like ‘’okay, I got it.’ I can’t think about the nerves. I have to put the ball down and make sure everyone else stays calm in a situation that’s really tight like that.”
Packer Coach Kelsey Gibbons believed the faith she had in Schatz was justified.
“In tight situations she’s our go-to and in those fifth sets we make sure that we have her in the right spot at the beginning of the game and we’ve got to keep feeding her until she gets stopped,” Gibbons said. “And she’s a hard one to (stop).”
It didn’t appear things would be so tight after set three. After splitting the first two sets, West Fargo took a 2-1 lead with a crushing run in the third, going on a 16-1 run after falling behind, 7-5, and eventually scoring 20 of the set’s final 25 points.
But after the Packers scored the first three points of set four, the Blue Jays rallied to pull even, riding the strong play of Courtney Peterson, who had a team-high 14 kills and four aces.
With two rounds still to play in the next two days, there’s little time for the Packers to rest, as they return for semifinal play at 5 p.m. Friday.
“That one is physically and emotionally tiring,” Gibbons said. “We’ve got to rest, we’ve got to celebrate and we’ve got to be ready to play tomorrow night.”
Ware, Patriots too
much for Mustangs
For years, West Fargo Sheyenne volleyball players have been desperate for a chance to play in the state tournament. They got the full experience Thursday in the Minot State Dome.
Lauren Ware finished with 19 kills, and Bismarck Century began its quest for a fourth consecutive Class A title with a 30-28, 25-21, 25-19 opening-round win over Sheyenne.
The Mustangs, who led by as many as four early in the opening set, had their chances in a back-and-forth opener, reaching set point twice. But a kill by Ware and an attack error thwarted their hopes of jumping out to a 1-0 lead.
Sheyenne fought off four set points of its own but Ware, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter with a six-inch height advantage over the tallest Mustang, finally ended it with her eighth kill of the set.
With the score tied at 15, the Mustangs attempted to make a run in the second set as Ware was subbed out during a Patriot rotation.
And while they were able to grab a pair of one-point leads, the advantage never grew larger than that and when Ware returned, she recorded four more kills, including the final two points of the set.
Despite playing Century three times during the regular season, Sheyenne Coach Leah Newton acknowledged the difficulty of preparing for a player with Ware’s combination of size and skill.
“She’s going to get hers,” Newton said. “We work on trying to minimize how many kills she gets, but someone of her size and athleticism and jumping ability, she’s going to get her kills.”
Sheyenne made a strong rally late in the third set, but a sluggish start resulted in an early 8-3 hole, which was ultimately too big for it to dig out of.
Brooke Prochaska finished with 26 assists, while Olivia Dobrinz had nine kills. McKenzie Newton had the best all-around performance for the Mustang offense, recording nine kills, nine assists and tied Prochaska for the team lead with nine digs.
“It sucks we lost,” said Dobrinz, one of six seniors on the Sheyenne roster. “(But) we’re the underdogs. We just want to come in and play loose and just have fun. It was a tough loss but they’re a good team and I feel like we played really good with them.”
Davies wins, earns matchup with
top-seeded Century
Fargo Davies’ high-flying attack was in full effect on Thursday at the Minot State Dome.
The Eagles bounced back from their East Region championship match loss to West Fargo with a 25-20, 20-25, 25-16, 25-18 win over Bismarck High in quarterfinal action of the Class A state volleyball tournament.
The Eagles hadn’t lost since Oct. 6 prior to last Saturday’s setback to the Packers. Now, they’re one win from the championship match.
“Our kids come to work hard every day so I don’t think they needed any more motivation that a loss may have provided,” Davies coach Missy Wilson said. “We knew Bismarck was going to play well and play extremely hard. Being prepared for them and playing well was our main focus.”
The Eagles’ deep hitting attack was on fully display. Madaline Cooper clubbed a team-high 15 kills. Madison Langlie (14) and Grace Solberg (13) were right behind. Kenzee Langlie (31) and Maggie Krueger (20) combined for 51 assists.
“We have six hitters that contribute on any given night and our setters do a great job of getting the ball to the kids that need it and our backcourt defense and serve-receive does a great job making that first contact to get us in system,” Wilson said.
Bismarck showed flashes all match. The Demons led, 16-13, in the opening set on a kill by Macy Wetsch, but the Eagles answered with a 10-1 run.
The Demons led 9-5 early in the third set, but Davies scored 13 of the next 16 points to take command. The Eagles did not trail in the third despite a late push from Bismarck.
“That was some good volleyball. Bismarck did some great things. They kept the ball alive several times it looked like we had it down,” Wilson said. “We expected them to play well and they did. I’m proud of our girls.”
Davies faces Century in the semifinals at 5 p.m. in a matchup of the two best win-loss records in the state.
“We’re going to enjoy this one for a little bit, but later tonight we’ll look at some tape and start preparing,” Wilson said. “They’re a great team. It should be exciting.”

Kolpack: Stick joins NDSU’s exclusive ‘Five-Touchdown Club’

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — This weekend in the Springfield-Branson area of Missouri was peak season for colorful fall foliage. Just beyond Plaster Stadium, under clear skies, shades of yellow, green and orange leaves glistened in the sunlight.
Inside the stadium, the color of note was red, as in the red-hot right arm of North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick. Almost everything he touched in the first half turned to gold and NDSU’s Missouri Valley Football Conference title-clinching 48-7 win over the Bears was over by halftime.
Stick threw five TDs in the first two quarters and tied the school single-game record for touchdown passes held by Tony Stauss, Steve Walker and Carson Wentz. About the only suspense in the second half was whether Stick would break it.
He didn’t, meaning he shares a record with Stauss, Walker and Wentz, who all have varying degrees of importance in NDSU’s Division I era. Stauss was the first starting D-I quarterback, who in a sense set the stage for the reclassification by engineering the famous upset over Montana in 2002.
Walker guided the Bison to back-to-back 10-1 seasons in 2006 and 2007 and showed NDSU how to beat FBS programs. Wentz set his five-TD record against the Bears at Plaster in 2014, and what he’s done since is self-explanatory.
Wentz may be getting a message from his former Bison understudy quarterback, too. Stick wasn’t aware after the game he became part of the exclusive Five Touchdown Club.
“I’ll have to make sure to let him know,” Stick said.
Stick finished 15 of 24 for 238 yards and passed Brock Jensen for the NDSU career total offense record. Stick has 9,980 yards. Jensen had 9,838 from 2010-13.
The number that matters the most, however, is 44-3. That’s Stick record as the starting quarterback. When Saturday’s game mattered in the first half, Stick toyed with the Bears.
“He was pretty special,” said Bison safety James Hendricks, who came to NDSU as a quarterback. “That kid, he prepares so well. He prepares better than anybody else in the country. I’m just glad he got those touchdowns today, that was pretty cool to see.”
The Bison didn’t mess around in this one. They went 85 yards in seven plays the first time they had the ball, ending with a 29-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dallas Freeman.
The Bears ran three plays and punted.
Stick came back with a 29-yard scoring pass to tight end Ben Ellefson.
“He was putting the ball where it needs to be thrown,” Ellefson said.
The Bears ran one play, an interception by Hendricks.
Stick came back with a 43-yard TD pass to tight end Nate Jenson, who didn’t have anybody in the same zip code of his passing route.
The Bears screwed up the ensuing kickoff, and NDSU’s Jackson Hankey recovered. Getting the point here?
Stick came back with a five-yard touchdown pass to Ellefson.
With the second quarter just seven seconds old, the Bison ran 25 plays. The Bears had four plays. It was 27-0.
“They’re doing this against everybody,” said Missouri State safety Jared Beshore. “(Stick) is a good player. He makes them go. He makes good decisions.”
At that point, Stick completed his first 11 passes. The difference in who came to play and who didn’t was striking. Last week, Youngstown State came into the Fargodome a hurting team from the previous week and gave the Bison all they wanted.
This week, Missouri State came into its own home field a hurting team after getting pounded by South Dakota State last week and didn’t bring much thunder.
The Bison have set themselves up nicely for November and December. Running back Seth Wilson returned to the lineup for the first time this season and showed some flash and burst.
Stick is a fifth-year senior who looked like an NFL prospect against the Bears.
“He was phenomenal today,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said of his QB. “He’s been great all year. He was great in the first half when they had everybody in the box and we were able to get some good plays behind their secondary with our tight ends and he was on point.”

No. 1-ranked Bison clinch MVFC title outright, roll past Missouri State

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – North Dakota State didn’t waste any time in wrapping up sole possession of the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship.
The No. 1-ranked Bison scored touchdowns on their first four possessions against Missouri State on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 10, at Plaster Stadium. They rolled to a 48-7 victory behind five touchdown passes from quarterback Easton Stick before an announced crowd of 5,224 fans.
NDSU (10-0, 7-0 MVFC) remained undefeated and clinched the conference title outright with one game to play in the regular season. The Bison have won at least a share of the Valley title for a league record eight consecutive seasons.
“It’s a special feeling,” Stick said. “It’s hard to do, and to win it outright is really hard. Eight in a row, it’s huge.”
The Bison made quick work of the Bears with all of Stick’s scoring passes coming in the first half. His five TD passes tied the school’s single-game record, matching Steve Walker, Carson Wentz and Tony Stauss.
“He was phenomenal,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “He was on point.”
The Bison had clinched a share of the MVFC crown with a victory the previous weekend against Youngstown State at the Fargodome. Klieman didn’t want to share.
“Getting the outright title is what we wanted. We weren’t even going to count it last week with the share potentially,” Klieman said. “I know that everybody circles the Bison on their schedule. Those guys know it and every week our guys brought it. That’s something that I give those seniors a lot of credit.”
Stick had scoring tosses of 29 yards to wide receiver Dallas Freeman, 29 yards to tight end Ben Ellefson and 43 yards to tight end Nate Jenson in the first quarter to build a 20-0 lead. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound senior came back to hit Ellefson again from 5 yards out on the first play of the second quarter and it was 27-0.
“It was important to start fast and finish them off,” said Bison safety James Hendricks, who had an interception.
The two first-half TD receptions gave Ellefson a team-leading six this season.
“It comes down to taking advantage of the opportunities,” said Ellefson, from Hawley, Minn.
NDSU capped its first half with Stick’s 27-yard touchdown pass to running back Lance Dunn with 2 minutes, 33 seconds to play in the second quarter. That made it 34-0 at halftime.
Stick completed 15 of 21 passes for 238 yards in the first two quarters.
“We were efficient, moved the ball around and it was fun,” Stick said. “It just felt good. I was comfortable with the plan coming into it.”
The Bison defense, meanwhile, kept Missouri State from sniffing the end zone in the first two quarters. Bears quarterback Peyton Huslig was 3-of-16 passing in the first half for 21 yards with one interception, the Hendricks pick that the Bison turned into a touchdown.
“I thought we kept fighting,” Missouri State head coach Dave Steckel said. “I thought we were resilient, but when you dig a hole against the national champs, it’s a damn uphill battle.”
Missouri State got on the board early in the third quarter. It was just an interruption for the NDSU offense.
The Bison went to the ground game in the third quarter with a pair of touchdown runs from sophomore running back Adam Cofield. He scored from 14 yards out on NDSU’s ensuing possession and it was 41-7 with 7:02 to play in the quarter.
Cofield’s 5-yard scoring jaunt late in the third quarter gave NDSU a 48-7 advantage to close out the scoring.
The Bison won all four Valley road games they played this season with an average 34.5 points margin of victory.
“What we did on the road in the Valley with some convincing wins was pretty special,” Klieman said.
“I think that everyone just gets really motivated when they step on another person’s field,” Hendricks added.