JAMESTOWN, ND – The Jamestown Blue Jays find themselves as the top seed in this week’s WDA Volleyball Tournament, but if they have hopes of winning their first tournament title in program history, they will have to lean on what has gotten them to this point in the season.

After a 3rd place finish last year, there were a lot of question marks coming into 2023 for the Jamestown Blue Jays, losing a significant part of their lineup to graduation.

“I think coming off of last season, none of us expected to be where we are right now with losing so many seniors,” says senior Kinley Anderson. “But I think working all summer in the gym and just putting a lot of trust into each other helped us realize what we could be this season and right now we’re proving it.”

The Blue Jays proving it with a first-place finish in the WDA regular season, while it’s been surprising to some, inside Jamestown’s gym, they knew all along.

“They don’t surprise you necessarily because you see them in the summer, you see them in the spring, you see them doing the work that they show that they have goals for the next coming season,” says head coach Sara Hegerle. “So I shouldn’t say I’m surprised. But I think every year is a puzzle. What is the puzzle going to look like when the pieces come together?”

One of those pieces is Makenna Nold, the Concordia St. Paul commit a big part of the attack that has led to a 19-1 record in the west.

“So many people come together to become one team and makes that team successful,” says senior Makenna Nold. “And you just have to trust your teammates and love your teammates and it just becomes more than a game to me, it becomes like a lifestyle because those are like your family members on the court and you want to do everything you can to make everyone succeed.”

Her players and coaches recognize what she brings to the floor, a humility and a calming sense on the court.

“Kenna is just a great person, a great player, a great leader too,” says Anderson. “Everything she does on the court, her hard work is shown. She does everything she can in the offseason.”

“She makes an error and she owns it,” says Hegerle. “Even if it isn’t hers to own. I think that has been a game-changer for our team because sometimes really, really good players, they want to make it all about themselves and she hasn’t done that this year. She’s been team first and I think as a result of that, our team has been able to cheer for her. At Century, she had 91 attempts. I mean that’s insane”

A 2013 WDA title led to a state championship in the same year, Jamestown hopes that history can repeat itself 10 years later.

“We talk about pouring into others, build each other up, build up the team and I think that’s the kind of stuff that prepares you for success,” says Hegerle. “Even if you don’t win it all, you’re still building for success because we’re building successful kids, successful adults that are going to go on and pour into other people along the way. So would we want to win a state championship? Absolutely. Is that our goal? Absolutely.”