Through the first two rounds of the Class A state volleyball tournament, nobody outproduced Grand Forks Red River senior Hadley Steffen.
Her counterpart managed to do just that on Saturday at the Minot State University Dome. Hannah Larson, the other No. 11 on the floor, had a match-high 17 kills and seven blocks and helped Bismarck Century get over the obstacle that had stood in its way for so long.
The Patriots - in their fourth title match in five years - knocked off Red River in four sets (18-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18) and erased the memories of settling for second to the Roughriders in two of the past three seasons.
Members of the Bismarck Century volleyball team celebrate after the final point of the Patriots' four-game win over Grand Forks Red River in the Class A state championship match Saturday at the Minot State University Dome.
"They're a really good program," Larson said. "They always have a good team. But after losing to them last year, it feels even better this year to win."
After watching Steffen, who set a tournament record with 72 kills this weekend, senior setter Payton Salquist - a record 141 assists in three matches - and Red River rally to take set one, Larson took over the rest of the match.
She recorded six points in a 9-1 rally that finalized Century's second-set victory. In game three, she provided two blocks and a kill in a 6-0 run that gave her team a 13-7 chasm. In the match's final frame, she tallied four kills and two blocks to cement the title.
"Hannah's amazing," said Century sophomore Ali Hasche, who had 11 kills. "She's led us through many of our wins. That's one of the reasons why she's our team leader is because she can get it done."
Steffen, a North Dakota State University commit, had her streaks of kills. But for the most part, the Patriots defense was there to stifle any potential rallies.
Steffen finished with 15 kills, well short of the 32 and 23 putaways she had in two matches prior.
"She's a great player," Century co-coach Jamie Zastoupil said. "She's a big player in the state and she's probably one of the toughest ones to defend. Our girls had to make some adjustments, taking away the line, taking away cross-court. They did well, they adapted well to it."
In the first set, errors, bad serves and net violations plagued the Patriots. The 9-1 run they surrendered to end the frame didn't help matters, either.
Throughout the rest of the match, though, Century played a near-flawless contest.
"The main thing we talked about is just our low-error volleyball and forcing the errors on their side," Zastoupil said. "The girls were ready to play. We just kinda came out a little timid, I think. We just had to force their errors and we did a good job of doing it."
It is the third state title in Patriots history and the first under co-coaches Zastoupil and Sara Bohrer. Hasche, junior setter Shay Bense and Larson made the all-tournament team. Steffen, Kaitlin Anderson and Cassidy Bush were Red River's representatives on the team.
Kaitlin Anderson had 11 kills and Payton Salquist had 36 assists in the loss.