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Chris Murphy, Published October 19 2012

Rebels setter has offense flowing at record pace

Moorhead - So often in sports, the ignition is overshadowed by the explosion. The walk to load the bases is immediately forgotten as soon as the grand slam leaves the bat.

For Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton setter Mandy Mercil, lighting the fuse is just as good as being the flame.

“I really enjoy being the middle man,” Mercil said. “I’ve always liked the team aspect of all the sports I play. When I have a really good set and someone gets a kill, it makes me feel good. I feel like it brings the team together.”

It’s that mentality that not only has Mercil 51 assists away from makng D-G-F history, but puts the Rebels’ record at 19-5 heading into today’s final regular-season action at the Moorhead High School Pumpkin Classic.

“She’s done a lot for our program,” D-G-F coach Tessa Tysver said. “It’s really nice having a consistent setter to run your offense. She has a knack for finding the player that’s on.”

In her three seasons on varsity, Mercil has racked up 1,718 assists, which puts her 50 behind Coley Nelson’s school record of 1,768 assists set from 2002 to 2004.

When the Rebels broke the 2004 team record for assists in a match with 61 versus Perham this season, Mercil had 52 of them. When the Rebels took down Wadena-Deer Creek 3-2 on Tuesday, Mercil finished with 42 assists.

Just be sure not to tell her that someone is keeping a tally.

“I’m not keeping track,” Mercil said. “I think my parents are. I just don’t want to know. I hope someone tells me if I break it though.”

Most may look at kills, blocks and digs before peeking at assists, but Mercil’s work does not go unnoticed by her squad.

“Whenever I need something changed, she already knows what I need,” D-G-F outside hitter Hannah Young said. “It’s really important to have a good setter to communicate with you. She’s the best. She knows where I need it and she gets it there. I think everyone else would probably say the same thing too.”

Mercil may not get the spotlight in the stat sheet, but the student council president steps into the spotlight when she’s needed.

“If something isn’t going right, she’s the one to tell us to calm down and to talk about figuring things out,” Young said. “She’s the one saying, ‘Let’s fix it.’ ”

Mercil has two three-set matches left today at the Pumpkin Classic and then the postseason to break the record. The assist record is a nice setup, but Mercil has a bigger point in mind.

“It would mean a lot to break the record,” Mercil said. “It’s a hard work pays off type of thing. The biggest thing for the season is to make state as a team. I’d give up the record for that.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548