Region 6 will have a new champion for the first time in eight years after the Bottineau high school volleyball team defeated Kenmare in four sets (25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 28-26) Tuesday in the region tournament semifinals at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Bottineau senior middle hitter Katryna Hahn had a match-high 20 kills and junior outside hitter Danielle McDonald finished with 14 digs and 12 kills to help the Stars advance to their second consecutive Region 6 championship match. Bottineau lost to Kenmare in last year's title match, giving the Honkers their seventh straight region championship.
"I've wanted to beat Kenmare all my high school career and we finally did it," Hahn said. "I told everyone that we have to play hard, stay together and we should be able to come out with the win and we did."
Kenmare senior outside hitter Shelby Hass watches as her shot is tipped by Bottineau junior Bailey Neubauer (far right) and sophomore Stephanie Brenden during the Region 6 volleyball tournament semifinals Tuesday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Leading 13-7 heading into a media timeout in the fourth set, it looked as if the Stars were going to cruise into the championship match. Bottineau was all smiles in the huddle, but those smiles disappeared after Kenmare rallied and had set point up 24-23. That's when Hahn took over, winning back-to-back points to give the Stars the first of three match points. An ace by junior outside hitter Karlee McCould on match point No. 3 ended the Honkers' region rein.
In the fourth set alone, Hahn had seven kills and a block and McDonald contributed with three kills and two aces.
"Katryna came up big in the end for us," Bottineau coach Steve Dunrud said. "She picked it up and Danielle had a lot of digs tonight plus some nice kills. They both served really well also. Katryna's a senior and our best player. When she's playing well it opens things up for other girls, too."
Bottineau, not Kenmare, looked the seven-time defending region champion early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the first set. Hahn fueled the early push with a kill and three aces before Kenmare coach Tim Wallstrum called a timeout to settle his team down.
The Stars never trailed in the opening set despite the Honkers pulling within two points halfway through the game. Timely blocks by sophomore middle hitter Stephanie Brenden and junior setter Bailey Neubauer kept the Stars in front and neutralized Kenmare's top hitters in senior Shelby Hass and junior Katie Nelson for the majority of the match. Neubauer finished with a match-high five blocks and Brenden had three.
"They blocked unbelievable well," Wallstrum said. "They didn't make too many errors on serves and they passed the ball extremely well. We have a lot of areas in our offense that we're stronger in and they know that. They blocked our two outside hitters, which are the main part of our offense."
The Honkers took their first lead on the 55th point of the match, giving Kenmare a 6-5 lead in the second set. Kenmare took the second set before the Stars led wire-to-wire in the third game to regain the lead.
"We just kept hitting," McDonald said. "We didn't tip, we just kept swinging all night."
Dunrud said his team put together the best four sets of the season.
"We passed the ball very well tonight," Dunrud said. "We didn't give up a lot of easy points. I thought if we could make Kenmare earn every point that we'd be OK. It was a little feather in our hat that we were able to get past them this year."
Bottineau plays Our Redeemer's in the region championship match Thursday at approximately 7:30 p.m. at the Auditorium. Kenmare faces Velva in the third-place match at 6 p.m.