Ridgeview High volleyball grad Ashlyn Halford was a mainstay for highlight reel action on the court and also on the softball field while a Lady Panther and, now as a sophomore at Williston State …
Ridgeview High volleyball grad Ashlyn Halford was a mainstay for highlight reel action on the court and also on the softball field while a Lady Panther and, now as a sophomore at Williston State College in wintery North Dakota, Halford is performing the same theatrics at the college level.
Last week, the energetic libero for the Williston womens’ volleyball team achieved her 1,000th dig; the retrieval of an opponents’ bomb to the back line of the volleyball defense with an objective of putting the ball in play for an offensive shot at the net.
“I’m kind of the last line of defense on the scoring shots of our opponents,” said Halford, ranked second in digs per set and fourth nationally for total digs in the National Junior College Athletics Association Div. II ranks. “My just is to set the ball up so our middies can make good sets to our hitters. My job is to take everything that I can.”
As of Fri., Sept. 30, Halford, with a total of 1,026 digs in her career, grabbed 495 digs in 2022 and 531 last year thus far with the Division I leader a 651 out of Blinn Junior College in Texas.
In NJCAA Div. II, Halford has a national-leader 7.50 digs per set going with 561 digs behind national leader Kylie Kline of Iowa Lakes, whom Williston has on the upcoming schedule. Kline has just a 5.34 digs per set average but has played nearly twice as many sets as Halford; 110-66, to amass her 587 total kills compared to Halford’s 495.
Last year, Halford averaged just 6.26 digs per set. Halfords game totals have included 31 digs and 40 digs in two separate matches.
Williston, coached by another Ridgeview High connection, Chelsea Hinck, an assistant to reknowned coach Destiny Brightman, who put the Ridgeview program on a slate of consecutive district titles; seven to present, that is continued under another assistant, Steven Henry, who has maintained the Brightman factor in Panther volleyball.
“I got here in 2018 after starting coaching in 2014 with Destiny Brightman,” said Hinck, now married and in her fifth year guiding the Williston program. “Ashlyn is prominently a force in my program and that is exactly why I recruited here. Her skill has molded and become even more of a force over her last two seasons at the collegiate level. Her legacy was started with coach Brightman.”
Hinck’s long-tenure with Halford as a coach-player started in Halford’s freshman season at Ridgeview as a junior varsity player with potential.
“Our relationship has come full circle here on the opposite side of the country since that freshman year as my libero,” said Hinck. “She holds true tenacity and patience that really thrives in the libero position. She was voted a captain in both her freshman and sophomore seasons.”
Williston is currently 4-15, 2-5 in the Mon-Dak Atnletic Conference.
Knowing Halford will leave Williston after this season, Hinck sees her four year college as getting a special athlete.
“I expect nothing but great things for Ashlyn after Williston State,” said Hinck. “My network has broadened over the last 5 years around the United States, and I expect for Ashlyn to find a four year program that is exactly where she wants to be academically, and athletically.”
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