The Park River-Fordville-Lankin volleyball team did not panic despite squandering a 10-2 lead in the opening set.
PR-F-L fought back to make the first game competitive, then won the next three sets to defeat the Jays 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-12) on Thursday in the opening round of the state tournament at the Minot State University Dome.
PR-F-L senior outside hitter Kirsten Johnson finished with a match-high 19 kills and added 24 digs to send the Aggies into the semifinals.
"We've been playing those four-game matches all year," Johnson said. "We've only gotten to five sets once and we lost. After that first game we said we're taking it in four because that's what we do."
PR-F-L improved to 8-0 in such contests. The Jays entered the match having played just one four-set match. Ray had won its last 28 sets and 10 consecutive matches.
The Aggies fought back in the second set to tie the match, rallying from an 18-15 deficit. PR-F-L received point-scoring contributions from four different players, including three kills from senior outside hitter Sadie Vold. Vold finished with 14 kills.
It wasn't the prettiest of matches at times as both teams committed a number of service errors, mis-hits, net violations and communication breakdowns.
"We just played pretty flat ball and our defense wasn't picking things up," Ray coach Michelle Dolan said. "We just were not clicking."
After a close third set won by the Aggies, PR-F-L dominated the fourth game. Kills by Johnson and junior middle blocker Taylor Lehar gave the Aggies a 10-3 lead. The Jays never got closer than five points and suffered just their third loss of the season.
"Park River played a solid game and they put it together and they needed to," Dolan said.
Ray senior middle blocker Olivia Corcoran finished with a team-high 10 kills, but was kept in check the last two sets by the Aggies' back-row defense. Vold led the defensive effort with 26 digs and senior setter Carly Mydral had 21. Mydral closed out the match with a kill from her back-row position.
"Being with these girls all season long, the way we came out and I could look at their body posture and the way they were carrying themselves out there, I could tell we were going to come through," PR-F-L coach Sherry Currie said.
The Aggies advance to play Langdon in the semifinals at 8 tonight. Ray drops into the consolation bracket and plays Our Redeemer's Christian School at 2 p.m.