Posted 11/15/16 (Tue)
By Jody Michael
The Ray volleyball team posted an epic 3-2 victory over host Watford City in Thursday’s Region 8 championship to advance to the state tournament for the 10th time in school history.
Seniors Marissa Veach and Maari Dolan teamed up for 36 of Ray’s 52 kills on the night, their most as a tandem since Sept. 13. Veach’s 23 were a season-high, and Dolan added 13. Senior setter Kelsey Perdue dished out 43 assists to direct the Jays to a berth in the state quarterfinals for a third straight year.
“I’ve never gone three years in a row,” Ray head coach Michelle Dolan said. “That’s just awesome -- never get tired of that. I’m very proud of my team.”
This was the second straight year in which Ray won the region championship match over Watford City in five sets.
Combining for 54 digs in the back row were juniors Britne Viall (28) and Savannah Boone (26).
Veach, Perdue and Maari Dolan received all-tournament team honors after the match, and Veach won the Region 8 senior athlete of the year award.
Ray scored the first six points of the fifth set to pull away from Watford City in the deciding frame, 15-12.
At 13-7, Watford City earned a side-out followed by three straight Mackenzie Sparby kills for a 13-11 margin. Watford City erred on the next rally to set up a Ray match point that ended in another kill by Sparby for a 14-12 score, but the Jays finally erupted in celebration when Dolan made a kill for the decisive point.
The Jays put together come-from-behind rallies in their two other set wins Thursday, down 20-16 in the first and 11-7 in the second.
Ray’s 3-2 win -- 27-25, 25-23, 11-25, 19-25, 15-12 -- was an up-and-down affair that ended on a high note for the Jays’ second five-set win of the season; the first came two nights earlier in a semifinal defeat of Kenmare, 15-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-25, 15-13.
“Watford had beaten us twice this year, and Kenmare had beaten us twice this year,” Michelle Dolan said, “so the girls wanted to prove something. They were up for it.”
Watford City recovered in the third set to take a quick 7-1 lead and didn’t look back. The fourth was tighter until the Wolves had runs of 6-0 and 7-0 to go ahead 22-15 on their way to forcing a decisive fifth set.
“They like to keep me stressed out, I guess,” Dolan said. “After that third game, it’s like, ‘OK, are you just taking a breather here, or what?’ We played better that fourth one and just got rolling on that fifth one.”
Ray earned first serve in the fifth set, and Veach and Maari Dolan alternated on four consecutive kills during the Jays’ opening 6-0 run. After going ahead 9-3, the Jays would not score on serve again, but the defense held the lead just enough.
“Never give up, never surrender,” Michelle Dolan said. “That’s one of my favorite quotes, and that’s my team.”
The Wolves didn’t make it easy. Sparby had six kills in the fifth set alone. In the fourth set, she recorded five aces; in the third, she blocked Veach on three consecutive points.
“They have the height more than us, and they have some power,” Dolan said of Watford City, “but we had some kids picking it up when we needed and putting it away when we needed, and we played well when it counted.”
Now winners of eight of its last nine, Ray will meet Our Redeemer’s on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in the state quarterfinals at the Fargodome.
Ray are 3-6 all-time in the state quarterfinal round. The Jays’ best finish at state was runner-up, in 1995.
Thursday will be just the latest showdown in a long list of recent matches between Ray and Our Redeemer’s. The Jays and Knights have played eight times since 2014, including in the state quarterfinals in each of the previous two years. Our Redeemer’s has swept Ray each time.
No matter what, Dolan said, her team will make her proud.
“However we come out, I don’t really know,” she said, “but they’ll be fine.”
Ray 3, Watford City 2
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Ray 27 25 11 19 15
Watford City 25 23 25 25 12
Aces: Marissa Veach 5, Kelsey Perdue 1.
Kills: Veach 23, Maari Dolan 13, Savannah Boone 8.
Assists: Perdue 43, Britne Viall 2, Abby Hickel 2.
Blocks: Veach 6, Boone 1.
Digs: Viall 28, Boone 26, Hickel 22.
Ray 3, Kenmare 2
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Ray 15 25 25 15 15
Kenmare 25 21 15 25 13
Aces: Madison Daniel 3, Kelsey Perdue 2.
Kills: Marissa Veach 14, Savannah Boone 13, Maari Dolan 9.
Assists: Perdue 40, Veach 2, Britne Viall 2.
Digs: Boone 26, Viall 15, Abby Hickel 14.
Ray 3, Parshall 0
1st 2nd 3rd
Ray 25 25 25
Parshall 9 11 10
Aces: Savannah Boone 7, Maari Dolan 3.
Kills: Marissa Veach 12, Dolan 7.
Assists: Kelsey Perdue 23, Britne Viall 1.
Blocks: Veach 3, Boone 2.
Digs: Perdue 8, Dolan 5, Boone 5.
Region 8 tournament
at Watford City
G1: Kenmare def. Alexander 25-10, 25-8, 25-17
G2: Ray def. Parshall 25-9, 25-11, 25-10
G3: Watford City def. Stanley 25-13, 25-9, 25-11
G4: Powers Lake def. Trinity Christian 25-15, 25-11, 25-10
G5: Ray def. Kenmare 15-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-25, 15-13
G6: Watford City def. Powers Lake 14-25, 20-25, 25-20, 26-24, 16-14
Third-place: Powers Lake def. Kenmare 25-16, 18-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-11
Championship: Ray def. Watford City 27-25, 25-23, 13-25, 19-25, 15-12
Region 8 awards
Coach of the year: Mona Christenson, Powers Lake
Senior athlete of the year: Marissa Veach, Ray
Kenmare: Marissa Jensen, McKayla Neubauer
Powers Lake: Brianna Honrud, Grace Hove
Ray: Maari Dolan, Kelsey Perdue, Marissa Veach
Watford City: Mikka Haugeberg, Mackenzie Sparby, Avery Sundeen
G1: Langdon-Munich (40-2) vs. Center-Stanton (30-9), noon
G2: LaMoure (33-3) vs. Hazen (25-15), 2 p.m.
G3: Our Redeemer’s (40-2) vs. Ray (20-16), 6 p.m.
G4: Park River (23-11) vs. Kindred (24-18), 8 p.m.
G5: G1 loser vs. G2 loser, noon
G6: G3 loser vs. G4 loser, 2 p.m.
G7: G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 6 p.m.
G8: G3 winner vs. G4 winner, 8 p.m.
Seventh-place: G5 loser vs. G6 loser, 10 a.m.
Fifth-place: G5 winner vs. G6 winner, noon
Third-place: G7 loser vs. G8 loser, 2 p.m.
Championship: G7 winner vs. G8 winner, 6 p.m.