In a hotly contested Class A state tournament quarterfinal, Shanley junior Alivia Fraase had the final word.
The 6-foot outside hitter secured the East Region No. 1-seeded Deacons' 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23 win over Bismarck High on Thursday afternoon at the Minot State University Dome with a clean kill on match point.
Shanley (30-2) takes on Jamestown at 6 tonight and the Demons (22-16) face Grand Forks Red River at noon in a consolation match.
Shanley junior middle blocker Somer Bucholz takes a swing during the Deacons' four-set win over Bismarck High in the first round of the Class A state tournament Thursday at the Minot State University Dome.
Clinging to a 24-23 lead, Fraase handled Bismarck junior Taylor Hoekstra's jump serve with ease, then took a looping set and slammed it in an opening in the back-center part of the court for her match-best 20th kill.
Anytime the Deacons starved for a much-needed sideout, she came up big.
"We're very blessed to have Alivia," Shanley coach Curtis Johnson said. "She's a leader on this team. ... It's nice to have her in the front row when we need a swing."
Fraase added 21 digs for a double-double. Junior Somer Bucholz also finished with a pair of double-figure stats, tallying 14 digs and 13 kills. Sophomore Sarah Jacobson chipped in 29 digs for a Deacon defense that was tested often in the final three sets.
In the fourth frame, Shanley and Bismarck alternated scoring the final 10 points, which were split up by a timeout from each team. The Demons simply couldn't put together two consecutive points.
Bismarck coach Jessica Nichols said the Deacons' ability to finish out the close third and fourth games decided the match.
"I think we were both kind of evenly matched," she said. "It just came down to the end there where they had a little more aggression coming out of the attacking towards the end of that match."
Late in the third set, Shanley claimed six of eight points to take a 20-16 lead. The Demons closed the deficit to two twice, but couldn't replicate their late-game success from the prior game, when they evened the match.
"We have some players that can make some big plays and they did that today," Jacobson said.
In the second stanza, Bismarck called a timeout trailing 23-22 - and after making errors on three of four points. The Demons broke their huddle and took advantage of a Shanley service miscue before seniors Estee Schmidt and Natalee Todd landed kills to even the match at one set apiece.
Todd posted a team-best 14 kills, followed by Morgan Miller (10).
The Deacons scored 10 of 12 points, including six straight, in the opening set to grab a 16-7 advantage they never relinquished.
Bismarck senior setter McKenzie Kiefer notched a double-double with a match-high 40 assists and 15 digs. Four other Demons (Alison Fisher, Jenna Binstock, Miller and Hoekstra) also finished with double-figure digs.
Johnson said Bismarck's stingy defense is solid preparation for Shanley's upcoming match.
"They are such a great defensive team that we were gonna have to put out a good effort to get by them," he said. "It was a good matchup for us because it got us ready for Jamestown or Red River, who both play great defense."