The Minot High volleyball team came out with intensity during Thursday's match against Mandan, winning eight of the first 10 points to establish early momentum.
But the Majettes couldn't maintain their fiery start as their efforts dampened throughout, falling in five sets to the Braves 24-26, 25-20, 25-14, 20-25, 15-7.
While they hung on to win the first set, the Majettes conceded the next two sets by a combined 16-point defecit to fall in a 2-1 hole.
Minot High sophomore Elizabeth Lucy (16) attempts to hit through the double-block of Mandan’s Sasha Hopfauf (15) and Alicia Weiand on Tuesday at Magic City Campus.
Minot senior outside hitter Brooke Suko posted a team-high 17 kills.
Minot came back to win the fourth, but four unforced errors in the decisive fifth set propelled Mandan to the victory.
"That was the story of the game. Too many errors," Minot coach Ellen Jebens said. "We really struggled to serve-receive, and that's what hurt us."
The Braves scored their points in bunches.
After Minot's red-hot start, Mandan jumped out to a 20-14 lead, inducing a timeout from Jebens.
The second set was more closely contested, but the Braves held the lead from the start, eventually evening the match.
As Mandan grew stronger, the Majettes found themselves abandoning basic fundamentals.
"We need to keep up our intensity throughout the entire match and not let it vary," senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Stenberg said. "We just need to stick to our basic fundamentals and play the volleyball that we know we can play."
Stenberg registered seven kills and 14 digs for the Majettes.
Minot's struggles were amplified in a lopsided third set, one which saw the Majettes trailing by as many as 11 points.
Attack and miscommunication errors led to seperate runs of six and eight points for the Braves during the third.
A team with more seniors than any other class, Jebens knows her team is capable of better consistency.
"We've gotta keep getting better," she said. "We've gotta improve if we're gonna get more wins, but we've gotta be better prepared mentally, and I don't think that we were tonight."
The Majettes recovered well in the fourth set, coming back from an early deficit to force a fifth set, but inconsistency and mistakes made an unfortunate return for Minot in the fifth.
Brooke Suko - who produced a team-high 17 kills - notched Minot's first three points in the final set. Mandan junior Hannah Hanson answered with three early kills of her own.
With the final set tied at 5, the Braves pulled away, winning seven of the next eight points to take a decisive lead.
"(Minot's mistakes) definitely helped our momentum," Mandan coach Anna Folk said. "But I think we took our opportunities. We passed pretty well, and our offense really performed. We spread it out really well, and we were able to capitalize on the passes that we made."
Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.