Hilltoppers' win worth the wait

Hilltoppers' win worth the wait

BISMARCK — High school volleyball practice started Aug. 14. Twenty- nine days later, Schlarman opened its season on the same night another area school (Watseka) played its 14th varsity match.

“Practicing three weeks straight gets kind of tiring,” Schlarman junior Joslyn Dietzen said.

The Hilltoppers — fourth in the area’s preseason rankings — needed just 35 minutes on the court Thursday to dispatch Bismarck-Henning 25-3, 25-16 in their opener.

“They were pretty hungry,” Schlarman coach Heidi Crane said. “They keep hearing about everyone else’s games. They were ready to go.”

Schlarman required only 27 serves to secure its first-set win, one which was achieved with Dietzen serving the last 17 points; eight of those were on aces.

“I was trying to mix it up (the location),” Dietzen said. “I have a lot of confidence in my serving.”

Dietzen served eight consecutive points in the second set as a 5-3 Hilltopper lead grew to 13-3.

“She was on fire,” Crane said, “and was difficult to stop.”

The same comment would have been apropos for any of the other six Hilltoppers who played in the varsity match. Schlarman had only two hitting errors in the match and was led offensively by Jordan Marganski (21 assists), Laura Gross (career-high 15 kills) and Janelle Marion (six kills).

“We definitely did great in the first game,” Dietzen said. “We’ll go far (this season). We want to push past everything we’ve done before.”

The Hilltoppers are coming off a season in which they captured the school’s second sectional championship in volleyball. Crane understands the need to be prepared for the postseason.

On Saturday, she’ll take her team to a tourney in Jacksonville where the first two matches are against the host Crimsons and Metamora, both Class 2A.

“It helps to see what’s outside of here,” Crane said. “We wanted to get into a challenging tournament.”

B-H took the lead to start each set, twice scoring the first point. Maddie Winkler’s ace gave the Blue Devils a quick edge in the opening set. Mary Bass — who had a team-high five kills — had two kills to start the second set.

Both times, kills by Gross gave Schlarman a 3-2 lead and an advantage it never relinquished.

“Laura was moving it all over the court,” Crane said.

The Blue Devils went on a 13-9 second-set run after falling behind.

“I was very happy to see us pull back into it with some energy and competitiveness,” B-H coach Susan Kentner said. “They are a team you have to do your homework on. You have to neutralize Laura and Jordan. The game plan has to be on task.”