FARGO - Chai Pappa is never sure where her serve is going to land.
More often than not, the Stanley High School sophomore's serve landed where it needed to during Friday's Class B state tournament semifinal at the Fargodome.
On match-point in a seesaw, five-game contest against Midkota, Pappa couldn't actually see where her last serve landed. The Blue Jays saw the corner official signal an ace and mobbed Pappa, who fell to her knees in tears.
Stanley hitter Shaunessy Dauwalder gets a kill in game 5 of a Class B state tournament semifinal against Midkota Friday night at the Fargodome. Stanley won in five games to advance to today’s state championship match, which starts at 6 p.m.
"Honestly, I don't know where it's going," she said. "I just hope for the best."
Stanley won 3-2 (25-23, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22, 17-15) and advanced to the 6 p.m. championship today against the winner of the Linton/Central Cass game.
Midkota was also hoping for the best on match-point, and the Mustangs saw it differently than the official along their end line.
"On the last serve it wasn't our play, it was another thing that determined the game," Midkota coach Michael Timm said.
Timm's junior outside hitter Emily Berge was also surprised by the call.
"Honestly, I don't really think it was in," Berge said. "But it was spur of the moment and it was coming really hard and she's a very good server."
Timm described Pappa as the best server "by far" his team faced this year.
Pappa was the last person the Mustangs wanted to see launching the ball over the net. In the third game, Pappa aced four out of five successive serves. Stanley built a 16-3 lead in the game.
"She's just got ice in her veins, that one," said Jessica Niemitalo, Stanley's coach and Pappa's mother. "Chai in the last part of the season has come on so well. When she's back to serve, it's such an upper for the girls."
Pappa finished with 12 aces and 14 kills.
Midkota answered with a booming start of its own in the fourth game, building a quick 8-2 lead with smart attacking led by Berge. The momentum carried into the fifth game, but Stanley senior Shaunessy Dauwalder stuffed the Mustangs routinely. Dauwalder's 11 blocks set a new state tournament single-match record.
"We like to surprise them on the second hit," Dauwalder said. "Anything aggressive that we can do that they wouldn't see coming we strive for."
Dauwalder led the Blue Jays with 16 kills and said her team was very aware that it was Pappa serving for a berth in the title game.
"We all just needed to stay calm and stay focused and not get her all jittery," Dauwalder said. "And she made it in."