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West bounces back to beat East in all-star volleyball match

WEST FARGO — When Megan Gaffaney was among the best players in the state of North Dakota, she was among the best performers in almost everything.

The North Dakota senior athlete of the year from Jamestown and University of Jamestown commit stuffed the stat sheet with nine kills, four blocks, eight digs and 17 assists as the West beat the East 24-26, 25-17, 26-24, 25-23 on Monday, June 11, in the first match of the annual North Dakota Optimists/North Dakota High School Coaches Association all-star volleyball series at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. The second match of the series will be played at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at Bismarck Century High School.

"It's the best of the best, so it's really fun to come out here and compete with everyone. That makes every point sweeter," Gaffaney said. "I was just going to go where ever they needed me to go."

West Fargo's Darian Chwialkowski, a University of North Dakota commit, led the East with 11 kills to go with 11 digs. She said the higher level of play was noticeable from the very beginning.

The West took an early lead in the first set, but the East responded with a 10-6 run. The West came back with a 6-2 run to tie the set, but the East was resilient and won after extra points. The West wasn't going down easily, however, and used a 12-4 run to take a commanding win in the second set.

The East got an early four-point lead in the third set, but the West came back and tied it at 19. Both teams exchanged rallies and both teams called timeouts to kill each other's momentum. Chwialkowski recorded her 10th kill from the back row to tie the set late, but the West won again with extra points thanks to a potent offensive attack. The fourth set was back and forth, as the West put up four unanswered points to get a lead and the East went on a 4-1 run to force a West timeout. But the West again had too much firepower and won its third straight set for the win.

"It's a good experience," Chwialkowski said. "It's a different level and it's fun to compete in it. I just wanted to play my game."

Briar Cliff (Iowa) commit Lexus Mosbrucker of Bismarck was dominant at the net and finished with a match-high 17 kills to go with 14 digs. Katelyn Selensky, who won a state championship with Bismarck Century last fall and will be playing for Minnesota State Moorhead, totaled seven kills, three blocks, 15 digs and a team-high 23 assists. University of Jamestown commit Hannah Schiele of Jamestown recorded a match-high 28 digs.

Despite not having much experience playing with her teammates before, Selensky said the West pulled away in close sets because the players trusted each other. They knew they would be skilled enough to win.

"It's fun to compete with and against the girls you watch all season and standout on all their teams," Selensky said. "We clicked really well."

Valley City State commit Reagan Ingstad from Valley City totaled a match-high 24 assists and facilitated a well-round East offense. Concordia College commit Winnie Selekwa from Fargo Davies chipped in six kills, while Caira Berg from Fargo Shanley, North Dakota State commit Maggie Steffen from Grand Forks Red River and North Dakota State College of Science commit Lily Pyle from Central Cass all totaled five kills.

Elise Bakke from Fargo North finished with eight kills and three blocks. Bakke, who will also be playing for MSUM, said going against this level of players will be preparation for the next level in college.

Bakke said the East will have to play better defense if they plan on getting a win on the west side of the state.

"In some sets, we lacked in communication," Bakke said. "Hopefully we can take that to the next level, improve on our defense, get more scrappy and clean up the small things. The small things really did eat at us."

W (kills-blocks-aces): Gaffaney 9-4-0, Mosbrucker 17-2-1, Schiele 0-0-1 (28 digs), Selensky 7-3-0 (23 assists), Anderson 5-2-0, Hintz 0-1-0, Popinga 2-2-0, Vogel 4-3-0, Doll 4-0-0, Haugeberg 0-3-1, Overton 3-3-0.

E: Berg 5-2-0, Chwialkowski 11-0-0, Steffen 5-0-0, Ingstad 1-0-6 (24 assists), Bakke 8-3-0, Selekwa 6-6-0, Pyle 5-3-0, Lyons 2-1-0, Uehran 3-0-0, Meiklejohn 0-0-1 (19 digs), Sabinash 1-3-0, Hill 0-0-1.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

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