WEST FARGO — The atmosphere was electric as crosstown rivals West Fargo and West Fargo Sheyenne faced each other for the first time this volleyball season on Thursday night.
The Mustangs tallied a 25-18, 25-12, 25-14 win over West Fargo, sweeping the Packers in an Eastern Dakota Conference matchup.
West Fargo's Erin Binstock was the first to get on the scoreboard entering the opening set. The Packers' two-point lead was followed by six unanswered points by the Mustangs to give Sheyenne a 6-2 advantage. The Packers tried to crawl their way back in the competitive first set, but Sydney Smith's kill ended the opening set, catapulting the Mustangs to a 25-18 win.
Binstock, a junior outside hitter, was first on the board again in the second set with a kill. However, the Mustangs rode the momentum from the first set, holding a 12-point lead over the Packers heading into the game point, ultimately topping West Fargo 25-12.
The Packers entered the third set trailing West Fargo by two. A powerful dig by the Packers' Maddie Waldera, who tallied 14 digs in the match, signaled a comeback attempt for West Fargo when the team was down 20-12. Net errors ultimately proved costly for the Packers, who fell 25-14 in the third and final set.
Mustangs head coach Leah Newton was happy with her team's performance.
"I felt like they went out there and they clicked," Newton said. "They played aggressive and competitive. We've got things to work on, but I'm proud of them playing together as a team."
Sheyenne team captain McKenzie Newton, a senior outside hitter/setter and three-year returning starter, shined offensively with 40 assists.
"Our back row gave us some good passes to get our offense going," Newton said. "All of our hitters were wanting the ball and were aggressive. And when you have that, it really opens things up."
Fellow captain Nadia Kranz, a senior defensive specialist, led the Mustangs defensively with 15 digs. Jadyn Feist, a junior outside hitter/middle blocker, tallied 16 kills and nine digs.
Binstock had 24 attacks in the match. West Fargo's Nadia Chwialkowski, a sophomore outside hitter whose freshman season was cut short by injury, led the Packers with eight kills. Captain Halle Erickson and Lucie Holaday, who tallied 44 aces last year, had the Packers' only aces against the Mustangs.
The teams faced each other three times last season, with West Fargo going 2-1 against Sheyenne. The rivals will see each other at least one more time this regular season on Oct. 5.
Sheyenne’s victory over West Fargo rose the Mustangs to 7-2 overall this season and 2-0 in the EDC. The Packers fell to 7-2 overall and 1-1 in the EDC.
Heading into Thursday night’s match, the Packers came off a sweep over Grand Forks Central on Sept. 3. The Mustangs also notched a sweep over Fargo Shanley that same night. Both teams have lost to four-time defending state champion Bismarck Century this season.
West Fargo and Sheyenne both enter this fall following strong years. The Packers finished 23-15 and took fourth at state last fall, while the Mustangs finished fifth in state at 25-12.
West Fargo will next face Wahpeton (1-7) in a road match Tuesday, Sept. 10. On the flipside, Sheyenne will next play at home at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Valley City (5-3).
WF (kills-blocks-aces): Binstock 2-0-0 (5 digs), Erickson 1-1-1 (6 assists, 3 digs), Tveito (10 assists, 10 digs), Holaday 1-0-1 (9 digs), McKinnon 1-0-0 (2 digs), Waldera (14 digs), Becher 3-0-0 (1 dig), Chwialkowski 8-0-0 (3 digs).
WFS: Teckenburg (4 digs), Olson 6-2-0 (2 digs), Kranz 0-0-1 (16 digs), Feist 16-0-0 (1 assist, 9 digs), Knewtson 3-2-0 (15 digs), Smith 7-0-2 (8 digs), Newton 0-1-0 (40 assists, 13 digs), Such 9-3-1 (3 digs).