It was the best start the Minot High School volleyball team could ask for against Class A West Region rival Bismarck on Tuesday.
It was the worst finish imaginable for the Majettes, who lost 3-2 (26-28, 23-25, 25-14, 25-13, 15-10) to the Demons in front of home fans who paid tribute to breast cancer awareness.
Wearing pink uniforms and playing in front of a raucous crowd decked out in pink attire, the Majettes (11-15 overall, 2-8 region) took the first two games from the Demons and appeared to be in control of the match.
Minot High School senior middle hitter Morgan Milbrath spikes the ball between the block of Bismarck High’s Ashlee Hilzendeger, left, and Estee Schmidt during their match Tuesday at Magic City Campus.
"We talked about it at the beginning that it was going to be loud, it's going to be intense and (MHS) is going to be ready to go," Bismarck coach Jessica Nichols said. "They came out ready to go. We just didn't come out with that fire."
But according to recent history between the two teams, no lead is safe. The Demons took a two-game lead in the first matchup only to see the Majettes win the next three games and claim the match.
Miscommunication and numerous errors paved the way for Bismarck's comeback. The Demons (21-10, 8-3) took an early 4-0 leading in the third game and never looked back. Bismarck senior middle hitter Naomi Rust and junior outside hitter Ashlee Hilzendeger led the comeback with 17 and 11 kills, respectively. MHS found itself playing defense the majority of the final three games.
"We have to make less mistakes," MHS coach Ellen Jebens said. "I've been saying it all season, but we made a lot of errors. Until we clean some of that up, we're not going to win games."
The Majettes struggled to hold serve and were unable to mount any type of run to keep the score close in the third and fourth games. MHS had five combined service points in the third and fourth games. The Majettes had five aces as a team. Bismarck sophomore setter Alison Fischer finished with six aces alone.
"Our intensity, our communication just slowly dropped off," MHS senior middle hitter Emily Bolinske said. "We just stopped talking and that was the key factor."
Bolinske did everything she could to keep the Majettes in the match with a team-high 13 kills and three aces. But MHS couldn't overcome Hilzendeger and Rust. Junior setter McKenzie Kiefer set the offense in motion with 46 assists.
Jebens had a simple answer about moving forward after the loss.
"We only fail when we stop learning," she said.
MHS plays at Mandan at 7 p.m. on Monday.