Still Knight time

Our Redeemer’s sweeps Lewis & Clark for fifth straight state appearance

Alex Eisen/MDN The Our Redeemer's volleyball team celebrates after sweeping Lewis & Clark-Berthold for the Region 6 championship Thursday evening at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

When the toilet paper settled, the Knights emerged as champions.

The Our Redeemer’s Knights booked their fifth straight trip to the Class B State Volleyball Tournament Thursday night, sweeping Lewis & Clark-Berthold in the Region 6 championship match by set scores of 25-13, 25-12 and 25-23.

The Knights’ depth proved to be the deciding factor.

“This team has a tremendous amount of depth, and everyone fulfilled their role tonight,” ORCS head coach Kara Nunziato said. “Our goal was to go back to state. We knew we had the ability, and our girls just proved that they had the mental toughness to follow through.”

The first set belonged to Annie Folden. With her Knights holding a slim 9-6 advantage, the junior middle hitter used her range to bust the game wide open.

Alex Eisen/MDN ORCS head coach Kara Nunziato (bottom center) watches Lewis & Clark-Berthold senior Abby Simons (11) wind up her swing with ORCS senior Makiah Frederick (17) at the net Thursday evening in the Region 6 championship match in Minot.

Folden delivered six aces in what became a 9-0 run for Our Redeemer’s. Lewis & Clark never recovered as the Knights claimed a wire-to-wire win, 25-13.

“We knew we had to come out strong in that first set,” Folden said. “The first set really dictates the tone for the rest of the match, so that was important for us.”

The second set belonged to Cheyenne Lang. After totaling 17 kills in Our Redeemer’s 3-2 over Rugby in Tuesday’s semifinals, the freshman outside hitter channeled that same swagger on the big stage.

Lang recorded six kills in another wire-to-wire Knights victory. The final one came on set point, as Lang sent a shot to the right corner that hit the court just inches away from two outstretched Bombers players, securing a 25-12 victory.

“I just kept a positive attitude and put swings on the ball instead of being afraid,” Lang said. “We all mesh together so well, and it’s just fun to be on the court with them.”

The third set belonged to Macy Lindquist. After reaching the championship match by rallying from two sets down to defeat Des Lacs-Burlington in the semifinals, Lewis & Clark attempted to defy the odds once more in the third set against Our Redeemer’s by claiming an early 10-8 lead.

But Lindquist had no intentions of letting her team meet the same fate. The sophomore ignited her team’s offense with four kills as part of a 9-4 run to give the Knights a 17-14 lead.

With the score tied at 23 apiece, Lindquist delivered the final two kills of the match. The championship-winning point came as the sophomore delivered a strike that got dug out only to fall between two Bombers players, giving Our Redeemer’s the 25-23 win.

The Our Redeemer’s student section stormed the court, heaving rolls of toilet paper into the air as fans and players alike celebrated at center court.

“I just had that fire and determination (in the third set) to go out there and do my best,” Lindquist said. “We just had to keep calm as a group and finish it.

“Everything that happened afterwards was just crazy,” Lindquist added with a laugh. “I had no idea that was going to happen.”

Folden finished with a team-high 13 kills, while Lang recorded 10 and Lindquist tallied nine. Senior Tessa Olson led the way in the digs category with 25.

Lewis & Clark’s Toni Hamilton posted a team-high 11 kills, while Abby Simons totaled 21 digs in the final match of what proved to be the most exciting run by a team in this year’s tournament.

“It’s hard,” Lewis & Clark head coach Tara Holmen said. “We really started attacking the ball in the third set, but it was just a little too late. I’m proud of my girls for their season and making it this far, though.”

Also emerging victorious Thursday night was Des Lacs-Burlington. After falling to the Bombers in a five-set thriller on Tuesday, the Lakers rebounded to sweep Rugby in the third-place match by set scores of 25-18, 25-19 and 25-16.

Senior Kyley Lauf finished with a team-high 21 kills, while junior Alyea Casavant chipped in 18 assists. The win was a positive ending to a DLB season highlighted by both the third-place finish and a District 12 postseason title.

“We wanted to stay proud to our DLB Laker name and finish with a win,” DLB head coach Tarra Hysjulien said. “It’s been a record-breaking season for us, and we’re going to learn quite a bit from it as we move forward.”

For the Knights, they’re moving forward to the biggest stage of them all. Our Redeemer’s will continue its run at the coveted state title on Nov. 15 at the Minot State Dome.

With just three match wins separating them from the crown, the Knights are ready to make that final push.

“It’s been a long journey this season, but our goal is finally right there,” Olson said. “We just have to keep playing our game the way we’ve been playing it. It’s been working so far.”

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