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One win away

Al Christianson/ For the MDN Our Redeemer's Christian School's Ryleigh Popinga goes up for a kill during the Class B state semifinals Friday night against Kindred at the Fargodome. The Knights won in three games to advance to this evening's Class B state title match against LaMoure.

FARGO – Minot Our Redeemer’s senior Morgan Olson was swinging, setting and diving on the floor all match, but it was a standing bump that gave her the most satisfaction.

Olson’s bump found the floor to give the Knights the win in a marathon third set, capping a 25-18, 25-18, 30-28 victory against Kindred in the North Dakota Class B state volleyball semifinals Friday at the Fargodome.

“I was so tense inside,” said Olson, who finished with 16 kills, 22 assists and 20 digs. “I was working really hard, jumping all over, and then I won on a bump kill … and I just clapped.”

The top-seeded Knights (42-2) play defending state champion LaMoure at 8 p.m. today for the Class B state title. Our Redeemer’s had lost in the semifinals the previous two seasons.

“These girls have a lot of experience,” Our Redeemer’s head coach Kara Nunziato said. “They have been in semifinal (matches) and left disappointed for the last two seasons. … They kept their composure and they did a great job playing a solid defensive and offensive game.”

No. 5-seeded Kindred (25-19) had its state championship hopes dashed after a strong surge in recent weeks. The Vikings will play Langdon-Edmore-Munich at 3 p.m. today for third place.

“We never really got quite settled in and when they made their pushes we just couldn’t adjust fast enough,” Kindred head coach Amanda Scheffler said.

Kindred trailed 24-21 in the third set and held off seven match points to stay alive. Knights senior Makayla Gartner’s kill gave her team a 29-28 lead. Olson followed with her bump kill that caught the Vikings off guard to cap off a frenetic final point.

“That makes the game great,” Nunziato said. “That was a great third set. Both teams did a tremendous job playing the game of volleyball and keeping it fun for the players and the fans.”

Olson said earning set point was a relief after falling in the semifinals the previous two seasons.

“You have flashbacks,” Olson said.

Scheffler was proud of the way her team competed in that final set.

“It’s tough, but at the same time they went down fighting,” Scheffler said. “That’s kind of been their story the last two weeks.”

The Vikings held 17-15 leads in each of the first two sets. The Knights, however, responded both times with 10-1 surges to close each set for 25-18 wins.

“We do drills in practice where we have to dig ourselves out of holes and come back from behind,” Olson said. “I thought practice paid off.”

Our Redeemer’s scored the final eight points in the second set. Olson had three kills during that key stretch to give the Knights a 2-0 match lead.

“We tried to stay calm the whole entire game,” Olson said. “I know I was pretty reserved and I’m not a reserved player.”

Holen, LaMoure return to Class B volleyball title match

FARGO — Anna Holen expected to be icing her right shoulder Friday night. Thirty-four kills in one match will do that.

“Probably like seven times, at least,” the LaMoure junior said. “Once the adrenaline gets going (during a match) you can’t feel it. But it will be pretty numb later after all those swings.”

But, she added with a smile, “I don’t mind.”

That’s because her hitting led the defending champion Loboes back to the title match in the North Dakota Class B high school volleyball tournament. In a rematch of last season’s final,  LaMoure beat Langdon-Edmore-Munich 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-14 in Friday’s semifinals.

Class A

Century edges Shanley in new chapter of state tournament rivalry

FARGO — The last time Bismarck Century didn’t make a state championship match, Regan Dennis was in the sixth grade. Growing up in the Century volleyball program and looking up to the Patriot seniors before her, Dennis knew expectations were high.

A match away from another state title match, Century, the returning state champs, drew Fargo Shanley, the state winners in 2014. The programs had faced off in those previous two state title contests, so Dennis was fully prepared for a tough go.

But she and the West Region’s top-seeded Patriots rose to the challenge.

Dennis put down the final two kills to seal Century’s sixth consecutive state championship berth with a 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 26-24 win over the East Region’s No. 2-seeded Shanley in the North Dakota Class A state semifinals on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Fargodome.

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