Ashley Koppinger and Emily VanLith made sure in-town rival Bishop Ryan didn't spoil their senior night on Tuesday.
With the Our Redeemer's Christian School volleyball team trailing the Lions in game four, Koppinger and VanLith accounted for six points in a 7-0 run to send ORCS to a 3-1 victory. The fourth set was the only one decided by more than two points, as the Knights (30-7-1) won 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18.
Koppinger had a kill to tie the game at 15, then added three aces to go along with two VanLith kills to give ORCS its largest lead of the night.
Our Redeemer’s Christian School senior Emily VanLith spikes the ball between Bishop Ryan senior Quinn Harmon, left, and junior Maddie Lipp during the Knights’ win Tuesday at ORCS.
"We just had some good serves go in when they needed to," ORCS coach Sherry Carlson said. "Kids mixed it up, so (Ryan) didn't know what to expect. It could be short, long. ... Once you get an ace, momentum starts coming. When you get an ace, it's like a kill. It just moves you to another level."
Koppinger finished with a match-high 19 kills and VanLith chipped in 12.
"We can never do it without a set," VanLith said. "Our teammates help us a lot, but it feels good when we can pull it together as a team and get those points to get it done."
The match was back-and-forth throughout with several long, entertaining rallies. Neither team led by more than four points in a game until the Knights' final run.
"Ryan's got a team that's full of athletes and they have some state experience because they went to state in basketball, so they have a mental toughness that's really good," Carlson said. "I knew right off the bat that it was going to be a tough match."
The Lions (20-14) took the opening game with some efficient hitting by sophomores Hannah Stewart and Gabbie Bohl. But as the match wore on, ORCS took the more aggressive swings, Ryan coach Patty Luetzen said.
"In the end the difference was we didn't get a chance to hit as many balls as Our Redeemer's," Luetzen said. "You can play defense to keep the ball in play so you have another chance to put the ball to the floor. We didn't put the ball on the floor as much in the end of that match as we did at the beginning."
Luetzen said she was proud of the way her team adjusted without junior starter Anika Rovig. Bishop Ryan athletic director Scott Medalen said Rovig violated a North Dakota High School Activities Association rule and won't be available for the district or region tournaments. He declined to elaborate further.
Stewart led the Lions with 14 kills and Bohl added nine. ORCS eighth-grade setter Morgan Olson enjoyed a solid all-around performance, tallying a match-high 17 digs along with 15 assists and 11 kills.
The match was the final regular-season contest for both teams. ORCS is the top seed in the District 12 tournament, which will be held at Kenmare. Ryan, the No. 4 seed, has a first-round matchup with No. 5 Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.