Bombers bust bracket

Lewis & Clark volleyball stuns DLB in Region 6 semifinal

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Lewis & Clark junior middle hitter Toni Hamilton (4) hits the ball around the block of Des Lacs-Burlington freshman Krysta Berard (10) Tuesday evening in a Region 6 Tournament semifinal match. The Bombers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to upset DLB, 3-2.

The Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers thought they were moving on. Lewis & Clark-Berthold had other ideas.

A day after knocking off District 11 runner-up Velva, the District 12 No. 3-seeded L&C Bombers turned heads once again Tuesday evening with another monumental upset.

The Bombers (22-14) battled back from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the District 12 Tournament champions, Des Lacs-Burlington (27-8-1), in a thrilling 3-2 marathon victory by set scores of 22-25, 12-25, 25-20, 25-14 and 15-8.

“It’s exciting, they worked so hard tonight and I’m so proud of them,” said Lewis & Clark head coach Tara Holmen, who wasn’t quite sure the last time the Bombers had reached the regional championship game. “Maybe when I was a senior in high school or the year after. Wait, how long have I been coaching? Maybe 15 years ago. It’s been a long time.”

Breaking the drought in the most unlikely of ways, by upsetting two higher seeded teams, sent a rush of emotion over the Bombers when match point against the Lakers was emphatically blocked down to the court.

“This feels unreal,” L&C senior Abby Simons said. “I feel like we are just dreaming. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Junior Toni Hamilton added: “This was a big upset. We were in the locker room before the game and we were like, ‘We have to be the underdogs. Nobody believes in us and we have to show them that we can do something.'”

The Lakers weren’t afraid to show off their go-to weapon early, as outside hitter Kyley Lauf scored DLB’s first three points with decisive kills.

A kill from junior Kayli Olson and Lauf wrapped up a 25-22 first set win for the Lakers. The second set went by even quicker, as DLB used a 15-5 run for a 25-12 victory.

“Those first two sets were really tough, but we knew we had to come back,” Hamilton said. “We couldn’t have played any better in those last three sets.”

With the season slowly slipping away, the Bombers changed their approach. Trying to slow down Lauf’s vicious arm wasn’t working and they needed to generate more offense.

“Our focus was putting up a double block in the first two games,” Holmen said. “Our third set we made some changes, and hoped the double block we had up halfway around (the rotation) would be good enough.”

Swapping the 5-1 formation for the 6-2 formation was risky, but the Bombers had nothing to lose down 2-0. Even though they lost a blocker at times, the defense behind them was determined not to let a ball hit the floor.

A physics defying defensive save gave Lewis & Clark a 23-19 lead in the third set. Now, momentum and some luck were back on the Bombers’ side. They went on to win the set, 25-20, and force a forth frame.

“After that second set we knew this could be our last time trying to make it to state,” said Simons, who had a team-high 14 kills and 13 digs. “We had to play with everything that we had.”

Hamilton was everywhere in the fourth set, from attacking to blocking to serving. In the match, Hamilton finished with 13 kills, four blocks and two aces. L&C senior setter Emolee Lindahl set up 33 assists.

A kill from Corina Pabian settled the fourth set, 25-14.

“I think we got a little bit too loose,” DLB head coach Tarra Hysjulien said. “We thought this one was in the books. And we maybe started to look a little bit past this one and on to the next. Then, the girls started to play like we were playing from behind.”

Lauf, DLB’s lone senior, was going to go down swinging. The Lakers first five points in the fifth set came from a Lauf kill. She finished with a match-high 29 kills.

Berthold wouldn’t back down. Last tied at 7-7 in the fifth set, the Bombers used an 8-1 run to close out the match. Hamilton had three kills and a block during the match-winning run.

“This is a tough one for (Lauf) and this one is going to string for a little bit,” Hysjulien said. “But, give credit to Berthold. They never let down and never gave up. We just thought maybe we could coast at the end.”

Kayli Olson added 17 kills for the Lakers. DLB setters Alyea Casavant (30 assists) and Addyson Hughes (22 assists) provided the helpers. Libero Kali Lucier had 20 digs with Casavant right behind with 18.

For Berthold, Pabian provided eight kills and 12 digs. Erika Neshem had nine digs and two aces. Ava Rogers put down six kills.

Lewis & Clark-Berthold advances to the Region 6 Tournament championship match against Our Redeemer’s at 7:30 p.m. Thursday evening at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Berthold last made the state tournament in 2003.

DLB drops to the third-place contest against Rugby. That match will be played prior to the championship match at 6 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.