The Kenmare High School volleyball team overcame Bishop Ryan's height advantage and survived the Lions' upset bid with a five-game victory (13-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-27, 15-8) Tuesday at Ryan's gym.
Senior outside hitter Shelby Hass recorded four of her match-high 18 kills in the fifth game as Kenmare (10-1 overall, 3-0 district) spoiled the Lions' homecoming party.
Ryan sophomore outside hitter Hannah Stewart and sophomore middle hitter Gabbie Bohl made life difficult for the smaller Kenmare team. Stewart and Bohl both stand at 6-foot-1. The tallest player on Kenmare's roster is 5-foot-7.
Kenmare High School sophomore Justice Brown sets the ball during the Honkers’ five-game win over Bishop Ryan at Ryan’s gym.
"I knew it was going to be a difficult game playing against girls with such height," Kenmare coach Tim Wallstrum said. "It was their homecoming week and they have momentum and it's in their den, I knew it was going to be a tough night for us."
Said Ryan coach Patty Luetzen: "Hannah and Gabbie are truly intimidating. I felt like Kenmare just backed off."
Stewart and Bohl combined for 7.5 of Ryan's 13 blocks.
"We're used to the size advantage of other teams because we're really short," Hass said, "but it's fun to play against tall girls that can hit really well."
Following a straight-game loss to Berthold which Stewart called "embarrassing," the Lions jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the opening game. Kenmare cut Ryan's lead to 12-9 before the Lions took 13 of the next 17 points to win the game.
"Getting swept by Berthold last week was a pretty big wake-up call for us," Stewart said. "We really wanted to come out with a lot of fire and a lot of aggression."
Kenmare showed why it is one of the district's top teams by winning the next two games.
"Kenmare is a team that is smart," Luetzen said. "Every time they make two mistakes they adapt and change what's coming at us. They're an experienced group of players who know how to change and problem-solve together."
Junior middle hitter Katie Nelson had five kills and two blocks and Kenmare had five aces during the second and third games.
Stewart and Bohl, as well as senior middle hitter Quinn Harmon, took charge of the fourth game. The trio combined for six kills, two blocks and an ace.
The Lions (9-6, 0-2) tied the game at 25 after facing match point and took the lead on a Rovig ace. The Lions forced a fifth game when Kenmare senior outside hitter Lexie Munson's spike went long.
"The team I saw here tonight is the team I see in practice," Luetzen said. "Taking Kenmare to five games is much better than what I saw against Berthold."
Ryan plays at Des Lacs-Burlington at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Kenmare hosts DLB at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.