With just 15 substitutions allowed per match, Bismarck State College head volleyball coach Jeni Walsh has some tough decisions on her hands.
The Mystics’ deep and balanced lineup was firing on all cylinders Wednesday night in front of nearly a full house at the Armory in BSC’s 3-0 Mon-Dak-opening victory over Williston State College.
“I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights going over lineups in my head. I’m definitely not complaining, though,” Walsh said. “It’s a good problem to have.
“Our practices are very competitive. We have a lot of really good players and that’s exciting.”
The unbeaten Mystics didn’t allow the Tetons into the 20s, running the table 25-19, 25-17, 25-17.
Seven players had kills, six served aces and 11 got into the digs column.
Century High product Bailee Otterness, taking on a larger role this season, had a team-best 3.5 blocks.
“I learned so much from the sophomores last season and I’m just trying to provide that kind of leadership for our team now,” she said. “We have really good chemistry and I think it will continue to get better and better as the season goes on.”
The Mystics are a little smaller this season with Otterness the lone 6-footer on the roster, but they can compensate.
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“We took a little hit in terms of our size, but this team is a little more athletic than last year,” Walsh said. “We have a lot of new players. We’re still finding our way, but it’s a fun group to coach and I think we have a lot of talent.”
Sophomore Cara Haussler topped the Mystics’ balanced attack with nine kills. Haussler’s three aces also were team-leading.
Becca Nitsch filled the stat sheet with 11 digs, seven kills and two aces. Emma Marion and Eva Abfalter had four kills apiece. Emma Fricke dished out 15 assists.
“We’re working on playing a fast-paced game,” Otterness said. “It’s a fun style to play and fits the team we have. It’s still early in the season, but I think we’re doing a really good job with it.”
Walsh said the lineup will remain fluid as everybody gets to show their stuff.
“Our in-practice competition is really high. I think we’ll just roll it. I don’t think you’ll see the same seven or eight kids each night,” Walsh said. “They’re all working hard and deserve a chance.”
The Mystics head for Duluth, Minn., this weekend with two games Friday and Saturday. They return to Mon-Dak play Sept. 11, hosting Dakota College Bottineau.
“Ours fans are awesome. They always come out and support us,” Otterness said. “That definitely keeps us on our toes because we want to play well for them.”