It began with an ace. Fittingly, it ended with another.
Sandwiched between those opening and closing aces were 20 more as the Bishop Ryan volleyball team cruised to a straight-set victory against Washburn, 25-9, 25-5, 25-8, in just 50 minutes Tuesday.
Senior setter Maddie Lipp recorded a match-high nine aces, five of which came on Ryan's first eight points. Lipp also recorded five assists.
Bishop Ryan junior outside hitter Gabbie Bohl spikes the ball past Washburn freshman middle hitter Mandy Schell during a match Tuesday at Bishop Ryan.
"It's all mental focus with the aces," Lipp said. "I've had a hard time with serves, keeping them in the court and hitting my spots, and that was just all mental. I just had to take a deep breath and hit my spots and the aces came after that."
Lipp wasn't the only one recording multiple aces. Junior outside hitter Hannah Stewart had six, including two for the final points of the match, and classmate Gabbie Bohl finished with four. Senior Macy Christianson and junior Maddie Wald also recorded aces for the Lions (1-0).
"We work on it every day so they know it's very important," Ryan coach Kaycee Grochow said.
The Lions were equally strong with their serve receive as the Cardinals (0-1) didn't record an ace during the match.
"This was our first match," Grochow said. "We have one in our belt and we can just keep building. Building off what we learned, what we did well and maybe what we didn't do as well. We just have to build on it every day."
Ryan used big runs to start each set and never trailed. The Lions jumped out to a 12-1 lead in the first set, a 13-3 advantage in the second and a 12-4 edge in the third. Stewart led the Lions with six kills and Bohl finished with a match-high five blocks.
"I liked how we kept our intensity up the whole entire game," Bohl said. "That's what we needed to do because the gym wasn't very loud. The way we kept our energy up was really great."
Washburn was unable to find any momentum. The Cardinals quickly surrendered their serve after winning a point. The longest run Washburn could muster was three consecutive points late in the first set. The Lions strung together nine unanswered points to close out the second set.
"I thought the team did really well," Lipp said. "Our hitters were ready to hit, we passed really well and our serving was good. It's good to start off the season like this."
Washburn sophomore outside hitter Brandi Holznagel had a team-high three kills.
The Lions play in the Hazen tournament on Saturday.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State men's club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.