JAMESTOWN – Jamestown High School’s volleyball program is a perfect fit for Aspyn Peterson and when you find the perfect fit, why go anywhere else?
“Volleyball is very rewarding,” said Blue Jays libero Peterson. “The work you do shows. The team and the coaches are like a second family. Everyone is super supportive and easy to talk to.”
Peterson, a senior at JHS, is one of the few student-athletes at Jamestown who has chosen to devote his time entirely to just one of the Blue Jays athletic programs.
Peterson chose to commit to year-round volleyball his sophomore year, which was the senior team’s first year on the JHS varsity team.
“Aspyn has grown throughout his time here as a Blue Jay,” said JHS volleyball head coach Sara Hegerle. “I watched her work to become the player she always wanted to be.”
Peterson said her commitment to the sport came from being a competitive person. Plus, seeing the tangible results of your hard work makes the “sacrifice” worth it.
“His confidence on and off the pitch has shown in a big way this year,” Hegerle said of Peterson. “I’m so proud of her and the player and she is now. She’s worked hard and deserves the awards.”
Peterson transfers to Jamestown, having moved to Jamestown from Beulah when she was in fifth grade.
Peterson said the transition to a Class A program from a Class B city wasn’t as dramatic for her because she was still in elementary school and wouldn’t be playing at the Class A level until high school. .
Still, Peterson took advantage of every opportunity presented to him. The senior libero started attending the camp held in Beulah when she was in first grade and has been playing volleyball ever since.
“I’ve always loved volleyball,” Peterson said. “Honestly, playing all year was influenced a lot by my friends. I knew my friends were all doing it, so I wanted to try it out to see if I’d like to play all year and I did.
“I love how rewarding it is after getting a good dig and my passers setting the batters and killing. It’s the best feeling ever.”
While she was named to the varsity team her second year and was credited with 64 digs during the 2020 regular season, Peterson was unable to experience the 2020 playoffs.
“I was quarantined the week before the WDA tournament, which cut my second season short,” Peterson said. “It made me really sad. I would say a lot of people in my life knew how hard it was for me to go through.”
The disappointment fueled Peterson’s steady improvement and set her in good stead to start her freshman year.
In the team’s 18 conference games last year, Peterson became the team’s second-leading passer with 115 digs for an average of 6.3 digs per game.
His backcourt performance wasn’t enough to take the Jays to the next level last year.
The Blue Jays picked up a 3-0 win over Mandan in the first round of the 2021 WDA Volleyball Tournament, but then fell 3-0 to Bismarck High in the WDA Semi-Finals, sending the team to a qualifier of state.
Jamestown’s season ended with a 3–0 loss to St. Mary’s in the state qualifier.
“This year is a new season and I have very high hopes for this team to take us (to be declared),” Peterson said. “We are all very capable of it.
“My goals for this season are to constantly improve and have more confidence in myself. I’ve really worked on that side of things.”
In the 10 WDA games played by the team, Peterson racked up 230 digs for an average of 23 digs per game. The Libero is responsible for eight assists and has registered eight aces so far this season.
“Introducing the libero position to the game demonstrated the importance of good defense in this sport,” Hegerle said. “Not just for the Libero, but for anyone who specializes in the back row. It’s more valuable than most realize.”
Peterson is currently leading the entire WDA in the excavations.
“This team is very good at cheering each other up after we’ve made mistakes, which makes it so fun to be on this team,” Peterson said. “We’re really good at including everyone…our work ethic (and) our confidence levels in the gym are much better as well.”
“Everyone works so hard and you can see that. We don’t drop so many balls in defense which is really important.”
While Makenna Nold has taken on the role of both setter and middle hitter, the junior is currently ranked second in recorded digs with 121.
“The great part of our team is that we have a lot of leaders playing in the back, but Aspyn has been a great leader for us this year and he’s someone our team and our program are looking for that,” said Hegerle.
The team’s other passer, Edie Hegerle, had 109 digs. The Jays are less than halfway through the season, but Bernadette Newman and Rylee Joseph have over 80 digs apiece.
“This team is capable of amazing things,” Peterson said. “We are capable of coming back strong this year. This team is special. We have the ability to surprise so many people and prove them wrong.”
Jamestown’s most surprising victory of the season came on September 22, when they proved victorious against Bismarck High at the home of the Demons. After losing 25-21 in the first two sets, the Blue Jays rallied and won 25-18, 25-20 wins in the third and fourth sets. Jamestown utterly destroyed the Demons in the fifth as they edged them 15-5 to earn their fifth conference win of the season.
That momentum carried the Jays to three more straight wins.
“I think everyone sees us as underdogs, which is good, but it also means a lot of people definitely underestimate what this team can do,” Peterson said. “We just have to put everything in place and we are so close to doing that.”