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Unable to dethrone

Our Redeemer’s dreams dashed in state volleyball final

Al Christianson/For the MDN Our Redeemer’s Morgan Olson kills the ball over the outstretched arms of a LaMoure defender during the Class B volleyball state title match Saturday night at the Fargodome. LaMoure won in five games.

FARGO – The Our Redeemer’s Christian School volleyball team gave it everything they had and more Saturday night at the Fargodome. But it still wasn’t enough to prevent LaMoure High School (33-3-1) from defending their Class B State Championship.

The Knights (42-3) lost in a thrilling five set instant classic after they had battled back from down two sets (25-19, 25-16, 21-25, 17-25, 15-8).

“Here is the deal, a championship game should be five sets,” ORCS coach Kara Nunziato, the Class B Coach of the Year, said. “I know the outcome didn’t go in our favor, but tonight was a well-played match by both teams.”

ORCS nearly flipped the script from a year ago when they had lost to LaMoure in the state semifinals by 3-2. The Loboes stormed back from a two-set deficit in that match.

A lengthy first set point went to the Knights as Morgan Olson, the Senior Athlete of the Year, powered a kill down the line. The teams then traded points from there until LaMoure built up a 5-3 lead.

The two-point cushion was broken when the Loboes grabbed a 12-9 lead and forced Nunziato into calling a timeout. LaMoure extended its advantage to 19-13 before the Knights used a 5-1 run to get back into the set.

However, a handful of ORCS attacking errors proved to be costly as the Loboes closed out the opening set 25-19.

Tied at 5-5, junior outside hitter Anna Holen stepped behind the service line and guided LaMoure to a critical 5-0 run. Holen finished with a match-high 31 kills.

The Loboes, digging nearly everything the Knights hammered at them, never let the Knights get closer than four points in the frame after Holen’s contribution. LaMoure rolled to a 25-16 victory in the set and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

LaMoure finished with 136 digs as a team. ORCS had 154 digs with Lauren Hendrickson picking up 40 and Ryleigh Popinga (32) and Karlee Zablortney (31) also contributing.

“The Loboes came out and controlled the court for the first two sets,” Nunziato said. “I’m proud that these ladies struck with it, didn’t give up and came back from a deficit.”

After three straight points for the Loboes to start the third set, Our Redeemer’s responded to get within a point at 5-4. But LaMoure was quick to rebuild their lead back out to 9-5.

Trailing 19-15 after an acrobatic diving dig from LaMoure libero Kallene Klever salvaged a point for the Loboes, Olson took over for ORCS with four huge kills and the Knights rallied with a 10-2 run to keep its season alive by winning set three, 25-21.

The fourth set will be remembered for the crazy point with ORCS leading 14-9. Multiple spectacular diving digs and the ball traveling over the net at least 30 times, ended with Olson getting a kill on a fake set attempt the trickled off the top of the net.

ORCS coasted to a 25-17 set win to force a fifth and deciding frame. Olson getting the set point kill.

Olson finished with 21 kills and 22 assists to conclude her senior season.

The fifth set was tied at 2-2 before Ana Holen put down kill after kill and a block for good measure to end the Knights season in heartbreak, 15-8.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

Century claims

a second

straight Class A volleyball title

FARGO — Bismarck Century entered the high school volleyball season facing high expectations. The Patriots were defending state champions and graduated only three seniors from that 2015 team.

“There was a little bit of pressure at times,” senior hitter Regan Dennis said. “But I feel that pressure pushed us to work harder, to reach our potential.”

The Patriots handled the pressure well. They capped a 41-2 season by beating Bismarck High 25-19, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15 in the championship match of the Class A state tournament Saturday in the Fargodome.

“You have that target on your back,” Patriots co-coach Sara Bohrer said. “We have nine seniors back from last year. They knew they had that target. They rose to the occasion all year.”

The title didn’t come easily. In the first-set win, there were eight ties and the final six-point margin matched the biggest lead either team had. Century closed the second set on a 4-1 run, winning on a Dennis kill.

The third set saw 17 ties, the final one at 23 before the Demons finished with kills from Lauryn Andre and Lexus Mosbrucker for the win.

The close score carried over into the final set. But with Century holding an 11-10 lead, Dennis had a kill for a sideout, then she served six straight points to open an 18-10 advantage. Liza Koppler had two kills in the run.

“At that point, our kids were on a mission,” Bohrer said. “We’re really confident with Regan serving. We were hitting and blocking well.”

Bismarck High got no closer than seven after the Patriots’ 7-0 run, with a Dennis kill for the 25th point clinching the win and the state championship.

“When the ball was set, I knew I had to put it down,” Dennis, the Class A senior player of the year, said of the clinching kill. “It was a flood of emotions. All of us have worked hard for this.”

Dennis finished with a match-high 19 kills and led the Patriots with 13 digs — an effort that Bohrer said was one of the senior’s top three matches of the season. Maddie Klein added 15 kills and five blocks and Cameron Clark had nine blocks to go with six kills.

The Patriots held advantages of 54-41 in kills and a 13-7 in blocks. Hannah Schwartz had 25 assists and Kylee Clark 21 sharing setting duties for Century, which was 4-0 against the Demons this season.

“Some of the time, I think we were a little unsure of ourselves, playing passive,” Bismarck coach Shari Hewson said. “Instead of attacking (the Patriots), they were attacking us. Volleyball is such a mind game. Century is a very good blocking team. We struggled to hit around the blocks.”

Mosbrucker had 14 kills and Cara Haussler 12 to lead BHS, with Jessie Oja getting 33 assists.

The all-tournament team: Darian Chwialkowski of West Fargo; Maggie Steffen of Grand Forks Red River; Katie Roberts and Emily Dietz of Fargo Shanley; McKenna Mikkelsen of Fargo Davies; Megan Gaffaney of Jamestown; Kiaya Schwab and Lexus Mosbrucker of Bismarck; Whitney Thomas and Sam Anklam of Bismarck Legacy; Maddie Klein, Hannah Schwartz and Regan Dennis of Bismarck Century.

Jamestown’s Sara Hegerle was named coach of the year and Century’s Regan Dennis was named senior athlete of the year.

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