Fifty points into Friday evening's Class A state semifinal between Jamestown and Shanley, Blue Jay nation howled cries of a victory after a marathon first set.
But those shouts of triumph truly masked six massive sighs of relief after Jamestown fended off a half-dozen game points.
Blue Jays senior setter Josie Hegerle pounded a Deacon overpass straight down for a kill on the 10th overall set point to give her team a one-game lead. They rode the momentum to early leads in the second and third frames and a 31-29, 25-23, 25-22 victory at the Minot State University Dome.
Jamestown senior Josie Hegerle jump sets during the Blue Jays' win over Shanley in the Class A state tournament semifinals Friday at the Minot State University Dome. Hegerle finished with 37 assists and 13 digs.
Senior middle blocker Addie Eamon landed a clean kill on match point that punched Jamestown's ticket to its first state championship in school history.
"We were on cloud nine, I feel like," said Eamon, who posted a match-high 16 kills. "To come back from 24-20 down and win that, it definitely gave us momentum for the rest of the match. It definitely set the tone."
The West Region second-seeded Blue Jays (33-4) will play Century at 8 p.m. today and East Region No. 1 seed Shanley (29-3) faces St. Mary's in a 2 p.m. third-place match.
"Jamestown's a good team," Shanley coach Curtis Johnson said. "Unfortunately we had to play them in the semis instead of the championship game."
The Blue Jays opened up 12-2 and 14-4 advantages in the second frame before Shanley mounted a steady comeback attempt. The Deacons claimed eight of the game's final 10 points, including three to stave off set points. But Hegerle - again on Jamestown's fourth chance to end the game - dropped in a kill that induced a roar from Jamestown's raucous student section. This one - a second-ball throw kill - put her team 25 points away from a state championship berth.
Eamon said Hegerle routinely comes up in big moments.
"I'm so happy that we have such reliable players like that to come in and take responsibility and to take matters into her own hands like that," Eamon said.
Shanley trailed 10-6 in the third set, but tied it at 13, 14 and 16. However, the Deacons never led.
Eamon delivered two kills and a block during a spurt where Jamestown reeled off four of five points and opened a 23-20 lead. The Deacons held off three match points before Eamon closed the door with her 16th kill and put the Blue Jays in tonight's main event.
"Addie played amazing tonight," Hegerle said, "but we also do have a lot of really, really good hitters."
Five players finished with six or more kills for Jamestown. Junior Rebekah Hilgemann notched 10, while Hegerle and juniors Jenna Stilwell and McKayla Keller each had six. Hegerle also posted 37 assists and 13 digs, while Hilgemann added 11 digs for a double-double and senior libero McKayla Orr notched a tournament-best 39 digs.
The Blue Jays held Shanley junior outside hitter Alivia Fraase - a University of North Dakota recruit - to 11 kills.
"We knew what their main hitter was," Eamon said of Fraase. "We focused a lot on her."
Johnson put it bluntly: Try as Shanley might, the match was more or less decided after the first 50 points - that never-ending, nerve-racking first set.
"It took a lot out of us," he said. "We had a chance to put them away. Unfortunately, it wasn't in our favor tonight. Same as set two and set three, we had chances."
Roughriders eek out five-set victory
Grand Forks Red River junior middle blocker Taylor Adam secured a 23-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-8, 15-13 consolation semifinal win over Bismarck High with a tip kill on match point Friday afternoon.
The Roughriders (19-14) play Fargo Davies for fifth place at noon today. The Demons (22-17) face Fargo South at 10 a.m. in the seventh-place match.
Following a lengthy rally, Adam deftly dropped the ball dead-center in the middle of three Bismarck players for her team-best 16th kill.
Red River trailed 13-12 in the final set, connecting on kills for the last three points.
Roughriders junior outside hitter Keana Burr recorded a double-double with 12 kills and a team-high 23 digs. Sophomore setter Mari Rustebakke notched a tournament-best 48 assists to go with 12 digs.
Bismarck senior setter McKenzie Kiefer led the Demons with 38 assists and 25 digs.
Just 15 hours after getting swept by Century, the Eagles of Fargo Davies finished off city foe Fargo South in three sets, 25-20, 25-23, 25-12.
Davies had five players finish with double-digit digs, including senior setter Katelyn Olson, who had 12 to go with 30 assists.
The Eagles (25-9) advance today's fifth-place match at noon, while South will play Bismarck for seventh place at 10 a.m.
South sophomore Emily Stroup flirted with another triple-double, but finished with 15 kills, 15 digs and nine assists. The night before, her triple-double included 29 kills - three shy of the Class A tournament record.
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.