It's been quite a while since the Des Lacs-Burlington volleyball team appeared in the Region 6 tournament, but you wouldn't know it from Monday's performance.
The Lakers returned to the Minot Municipal Auditorium for the first time since 2007 and made the biggest noise of the opening round, upsetting top-seeded Bottineau in four sets.
DL-B - the No. 4 seed from District 12 - dropped the opening set before taking the next three behind the play of sophomore twins Brittany and Megan DeGree in the 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 victory. The Lakers play Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood in the semifinals.
Bottineau junior Kennedy Azure attempts a block while Des Lacs-Burlington sophomore Megan DeGree swings during the Region 6 tournament Monday at Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Rugby junior middle hitter Emily Stier (10) tries to tip over the block of Bishop Ryan juniors Kelly Kasper (26) and Gabbie Bohl.
"We really look to them when things get tight," DL-B coach Tarra Froseth said of the DeGrees, which also include senior outside hitter Courtney. "Those are some of the most competitive girls I've ever met and they want to win."
District 12 flexed its muscle against District 11 like it had during the regular season. The DeGrees led the charge as Brittany recorded 10 kills and a match-high seven blocks, while Megan tallied 17 kills. Despite dropping the first set to District 11's top seed, the Lakers remained confident.
"We lost that first set, but the way we played, playing that close, I just knew it was going to go the other way," Froseth said. "We played horribly, but we didn't lose horribly, so we knew that was going to turn around for us."
It did. The Lakers matched the Stars point for point in the second set before winning six of the final eight points to square the match at one game apiece. Brittany Degree recorded the final two points with a block and a kill.
"We knew we were going to go out and get them that next set," Megan DeGree said. "We kept working as a team. We were excited. It ended up in our favor because we kept working as a team. We didn't fall and when we did we got back up."
The Lakers took a 5-4 lead in the third set and remained in front as the Stars were unable to mount any kind of run or establish momentum. Bottineau's largest streak was four unanswered points. DL-B 's biggest run was a seven-point spurt that pushed its lead to 8-4.
"We never got any runs going," Bottineau coach Steve Dunrud said. "It's kind of hard to catch up when you're behind when you're not getting runs. Give (DL-B) credit, they really played well. They deserved to win the match."
DL-B put Bottineau in an early deficit in the fourth set, jumping out to a 12-5 advantage - tied for its largest of the match. Brittany DeGree dominated during that stretch, recording six kills and a block. Megan DeGree also tallied a kill and senior outside hitter Miky Hynson added two more.
The Stars made a final push to prolong their season, closing within 16-15. But the Lakers weathered the storm and Megan DeGree's ace on match point sent DL-B to the semifinals.
"A lot of emotions come up because we've worked so hard for it and to see that we're going far, it's been a while since we've been here," Brittany DeGree said. "It just feels great to accomplish what we just accomplished."
The victory means even more to the DeGree twins, who get to play two more matches with their older sister.
"It's a dream come true being able to play with your sisters," Brittany DeGree said. "We've been out in the yard passing the ball, killing the ball. We've worked so hard all together and it's fun to accomplish it as a family."
Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood 3, TGU 0
Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood bounced back in a big way after losing in the District 12 tournament title game less than a week ago.
M-L-S senior middle blocker Shelbi Bahl and junior outside hitter Callie Carlson had 14 kills apiece in a 25-12, 25-13, 25-12 victory against TGU. The No. 2-seeded Mavericks play Des Lacs-Burlington at 6 p.m. today in a District 12 pairing.
"I was very happy with the way the girls played," M-L-S coach Culynn Solloway said. "They took it kind of easy, but they still came out ready to play like I wanted them to."
Mott and Carlson provided the net defense with nine combined blocks, while senior middle hitter Alex Mott added 12 kills.
The District 11 No. 3-seeded Titans struggled to find any rhythm, falling behind early in each set. TGU's top hitter, senior Mattie Schmitt was limited to six kills.
Bishop Ryan 3, Rugby 0
Bishop Ryan junior middle blocker Hannah Stewart had nine kills, eight blocks, three aces and 11 digs as the Lions advanced to the semifinals with a 25-18, 25-9, 25-21 victory over Rugby.
The top-seeded team from District 12 held a comfortable margin in each of the three sets, allowing coach Kaycee Grochow to delve into her bench in the third set. Juniors Kelly Kasper and Jacy Barstad saw playing time as well as sophomore Brianna Heidrich.
The Panthers - the No. 4 seed in District 11 - made it interesting late in the third frame, but Stewart slammed the door on match point with her ninth kill. The Lions play Our Redeemer's in the second semifinal match today.
"We just came out ready to go," Grochow said. "We know if we want to make it to our overall goal, we need to come out fighting every day."
Ryan junior middle blocker Gabbie Bohl finished with a match-high 12 kills.
Stewart and senior Rovig made life difficult for Rugby hitters at the net for Rugby. The Panthers' had as many kills amongst their top three (9) as the Lions has blocks.
Our Redeemer's 3, Velva 0
Our Redeemer's Christian School's youth wasn't blinded by the bright lights of the region tournament stage. The Knights dominated Velva in the opening set before mounting a comeback in the second en route to the 25-7, 27-25, 25-18 victory.
Freshman Morgan Olson finished with a match-high 13 kills and classmate Makayla Gartner added 12 for the Knights, who play Bishop Ryan in the second semifinal match today.
Tied 4-4 in the opening set, the Knights went on a 15-2 run and won six of the final seven points of the game.
Velva responded in the second set, taking an 8-2 lead and miscommunication errors by the Knights pushed it to 20-14. ORCS regrouped and tied the set at 22 and held off three game points.
"It's nice to see that when we dig ourselves such a hole that these girls don't give up and they're willing to fight to the finish," ORCS coach Kara Nunziato said.
Senior middle hitter Madi Letvin led the Aggies with five kills.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot State University men's club hockey team and the Minot Minotauros. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.