FARGO — A 12-year drought came to an end Friday when West Fargo High School earned its first Class A state volleyball championship appearance since 2007.
Everything seemed to click for the Packers as they swept their way into Saturday’s title match 26-24, 25-6, 25-19 over Jamestown.
“It’s crazy. To play an extremely talented team like Jamestown, that’s the best volleyball that we’ve played so far this season,” said West Fargo head coach Kelsey Gibbons. “We literally pushed for 75 points. We were on a business trip, and we didn't let down.”
West Fargo (28-2) and Bismarck Century (21-0) will meet in the state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.
“It feels great. We’re making history going to the state championship,” said Erin Binstock, whose double-double helped lead the way for the Packers. “We just worked so hard to get to this point. It's amazing.”
Jamestown (17-6) was stopped in its tracks by the rising West Fargo team, which missed state just a season ago. The Blue Jays will play for third place against Fargo Davies at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.
“These kids, they’ve been dreaming about this since they were little girls,” Gibbons said. “A lot of them live and breathe the sport. It’s the only sport that they play. They love it, they live it and they breathe it. I can’t think of another group of girls that deserve this more.”
Following a close 26-24 win in the first set, the Packers found their groove in the second frame. West Fargo kept its foot on the gas with a 15-1 run to cruise to a 25-6 win.
“We served well. We passed well and our offense was beautiful,” Gibbons said.
It was all West Fargo from there on out. Halle Erickson contributed all over the court with 15 kills, 12 assists and eight digs. Maddie Waldera shined with a team-high 26 digs.
Emily Larsen contributed on the defensive end with 13 digs. Nadia Chwialkowski, whose pair of kills clinched the first set, had nine kills, seven digs and a block.
“We talk a lot about playing defense for our server,” Gibbons said. Liv Soine is our best server, and so keeping her back at the line as long as possible is really important. I think the kids really bought into that tonight.”
On top of 15 digs, Soine had 19 assists and two aces, both of which were team highs, to give her team a boost.
On the other side, Grace Hegerle contributed everywhere for the Blue Jays, adding 11 digs and six kills. Jamestown was paced by Rachel Schiele’s 18 digs and Katie Trumbauer’s team-high 10 assists.
The Packers, who controlled the final frame, didn’t allow Jamestown more than three consecutive points in the third set. Binstock smashed it home, her second set-clinching kill of the night.
“We had all the momentum and we just kept going and we were confident in each other,” Binstock said. “We just kept swinging and we were doing great.”
Binstock got some added motivation from the audience. Her mom and brother were in attendance Friday. It’s been awhile since she’s seen them in Fargo.
Binstock's brother, who was involved with the Packers volleyball team when he was in high school, had a diving accident this summer. He’s been rehabbing and recovering in Colorado since mid-July.
“It’s definitely great seeing them in the stands and seeing them smile or cheer,” she said. “It just gives me an extra boost.”