The student body came dressed in white to cheer on the Minot High School volleyball team in its home opener against Bismarck Century. The "White Out" worked -sort of. The team dressed in white won the match, but it was Century..
Century (7-1 overall, 1-0 West Region) used a heavy dose of junior setter Shay Bense and senior hitter Hannah Larson en route to a straight-set victory (25-16,25-14,25-16) Tuesday at Magic City Campus. Bense recorded a game-high 27 assists and Larson connected on a game-high 14 kills to lead the Patriots.
Minot coach Ellen Jebens explained her feelings on the match in one short sentence.
Minot High School sophomore Brooke Suko receives a serve in front of senior Jessie Kongelf during the Majettes’ 3-0 loss to Bismarck Century on Tuesday at Magic City Campus.
"Tonight was just not our night," she said.
The Majettes (4-4, 0-1) caught the Patriots at the worst possible time, as Century came off its only loss of the season in a weekend match against Fargo Davies. After what Century co-coach Sara Bohrer called a "tough practice" Monday, both Bohrer and co-coach Jamie Zastoupil were pleased with their team's performance.
"Overall our girls are taking what we're working on in practice and carrying them over to games and we're very excited for them," Zastoupil said.
The turning point of the match came in the first set. Tied at nine, Century won seven of the next eight points and built a 16-10 lead. The Majettes cut it to 17-13 before the Patriots finished off the set with an 8-3 run.
"We got a little overwhelmed," senior outside-hitter Morgan Milbrath said. "It was our first home game of the season and the crowd was excited and we were excited as well. We let our excitement get the better of us and we didn't play as well as we're capable of playing."
Net violations and service errors plagued the Majettes in all three sets. The Patriots jumped out to an 18-5 advantage in the second set with 11 unanswered points and rallied off seven straight points to take an 18-12 lead in the third set. The game ended on a service error by Milbrath.
Minot struggled to dig shots from Larson and senior hitter Tyler Bulawa throughout the match. Larson and Bulawa combined for 21 of the team's 36 kills and Larson's 14 kills matched Minot's team total. The Patriots finished with 36 kills as a team.
It wasn't the 12 aces or the 31 assists that impressed the Century coaching staff the most, but the defensive effort that included 34 digs and four blocks.
"We were moving our legs more effectively to open up more options and being smarter players," Bohrer said.
Said Zastoupil: "We've talked to our girls about being able to communicate without the volleyball and we did that tonight."
Jebens said that her players have no choice but to regroup quickly and put the loss behind them. The Majettes travel to play Jamestown at 7 p.m. Thursday.