ORCS volleyball handles Bottineau in 3-0 sweep

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN Senior Tessa Olson (pink) records a dig during Our Redeemer's sweep of Bottineau Monday in the opening round of the Region 6 Tournament at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

The Knights haven’t lost a step.

After suffering a tough loss in the District 12 volleyball championship to Des Lacs-Burlington, Our Redeemer’s proved it’s still a force to be reckoned with in its Region 6 Tournament opener against Bottineau on Monday. The Knights (32-9-1) left no doubt as they cruised past the Stars (19-12) for a clean sweep by set scores of 25-13, 25-4 and 25-16.

“We learned a lot from our loss in the district tournament,” ORCS head coach Kara Nunziato said. “We just came together and decided that we wanted to get back to playing the sport we love and have fun. The girls proved tonight that they can do anything when they play as a team.”

After falling behind, 3-0, in the opening moments, the Knights launched a 6-0 run to claim the lead and never gave it up.

With her team up 24-13, Tessa Olson received a round of applause during a timeout for getting her 1,500th career dig. The senior libero entered the day just seven digs away from the milestone and received it during a lengthy first-set rally.

“That moment was awesome,” Olson said. “I knew I was close, but I didn’t know if I would get it tonight. It was really nice to have my whole team, my coaches and the fans behind me during that.”

The Knights promptly ended the opening set on the first play out of the break, as junior Annie Folden recorded a powerful kill down the middle to give the Knights the 25-13 win.

Our Redeemer’s was only getting started. The Knights went into lockdown mode in the second set, refusing to let the ball hit the ground. When the dust settled, Our Redeemer’s emerged with a dominant 25-4 victory to take a two-set lead.

“I think we can be very dangerous when we’re working together,” Olson said. “We’re a strong team, and we want to play strong like that the rest of the region tournament.”

The third set proved to be more tightly-contested. Our Redeemer’s held a slim 19-15 advantage down the stretch. Knights senior Makiah Frederick halted the Stars’ momentum with an emphatic block that ignited Our Redeemer’s bench.

The play sparked a 6-1 run that ended the match, giving the Knights a 25-16 victory and the sweep. Folden finished the night with 12 kills, while Olson recorded 10 digs.

The loss is the end of the road for a Bottineau team that will see the departure of eight seniors who have helped propel the Stars over the years to the level they’re at now. Senior setter London Andel had a team-high 12 assists. Junior Samantha Hill provided five kills for the Stars.

“Our seniors have been great contributors through the years,” Bottineau head coach Steve Dunrud said. “We’ll miss them greatly. Hopefully the younger girls have learned a few things from them so we can carry on the tradition and be back here again next year.”

For the Knights, it’s on to the semifinals. Our Redeemer’s will take on Rugby, the District 11 champions, this evening at 7:30 p.m. with a spot in the Region 6 championship on the line.

“We’re going to have to play a consistent match and trust each other,” Nunziato said. “We just need to work together like we did today.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.