Cooled off

Red-hot Majettes drop 3-1 match to Legacy

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot High junior Caitlyn Messner (14) attacks the ball Thursday in a West Region match against Legacy at Minot High.

It took everything the Minot High volleyball team had to win a set Thursday against Bismarck Legacy. The Sabers, however, looked comfortable in taking the other three on the road at Minot High School.

Using stout defense, Legacy (14-7, 6-2 West Region) dug out a 3-1 victory over Minot (10-10, 3-5 West Region) by set scores of 25-15, 26-28, 25-17 and 25-14.

“We come in with a game plan, the things we need to worry about on our side,” Legacy coach Jennifer Astle said. “We talked about moving the ball around, hitting when you can’t and tipping when you get that money ball, that perfect set. We did that really well right out of the gates.”

After a rough start to the season, the Majettes came into the match with Legacy having found their groove by winning eight out of their last nine matches. The magic wore off on Thursday.

“The kids have been playing well – talking and doing the things they should be doing,” MHS coach Sherry Carlson said. “But, tonight, it’s like they forgot where to be defensively and how to put the ball away in a spot that is open. And I have to give it to Legacy, they played great defense.”

In the opening set, the score was last tied at 6-6 before Legacy pulled away. A three-point cushion grew out five and eventually ended at 10 points with junior Becca Nitsch putting down a kill for the 25-15 set win.

Nitsch was one of two Sabers to finish with a double-double, as she had 12 kills and 11 digs. Legacy senior Whitney Thomas put down a match-high 24 kills and collected 13 digs.

“We have been working hard to keep our shoulders down and stay in the play as those plays develop and get to be long rallies,” Astle said about her team’s defense. “Not just standing when we get tired and to be disciplined. That’s something we did well tonight and something we have put a lot of work into this week because we knew we were coming off the bus and playing a team that is so defensively strong.”

A Minot defensive lapse early in the second set had Carlson calling a timeout with the Majettes down 9-6. Senior Elise Klein put Minot right back in it with a kill to even the score at 10-10. Klein paced the Majettes with 11 kills.

The teams traded points from there and were tied up on 12 different occasions, including late in the set at 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 points.

“We just started working together and found this momentum,” Klein said. “We were talking with each other and were really confident in our kills.”

Despite kills from Thomas to keep the Sabers afloat, the Majettes got the two-point cushion they needed at 28-26 on a kill from senior Kali Askvig and an ace from junior Sydney Beck.

Askvig finished with five kills and 16 digs, while Beck provided a team-high four blocks and five kills.

“During the second set, something just clicked,” said Minot senior setter Brooke Nelson, who tossed up 28 assists. “I’m not really sure what happened (after that), but we weren’t playing as well as we could have.”

The Sabers of the first set surfaced again in the third frame. The Majettes were looking up at the scoreboard and trailing 13-8 and 19-11 during their timeouts.

Minot salvaged six points before Legacy closed out the third set with a kill by Nitsch, 25-17.

“They did a heck of job serving,” Carlson said. “That’s where they really got us. We usually don’t struggle with serve-receive. But, when you can’t get that first pass, you struggle to get your offense going. That put us at a disadvantage and they got in our heads that way.”

An ace by Legacy senior Allison Guthmiller to start the fourth frame helped spur an 8-1 opening run for the Sabers. It was a deficit too great to overcome. In the match, the Sabers racked up 12 aces to go with 68 digs.

Sabers senior Kayla Schreiner and Minot High senior Rylee Terrel each had 25 digs.

The Majettes host West Region leading Jamestown (17-1, 6-0 WDA) on Saturday at Minot High School. Match time has been pushed up to start at 3 p.m. or following the conclusion of the junior varsity match taking place beforehand.

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