Still on top

Knights fend off Bishop Ryan at home

Justin Martinez/MDN Senior Makiah Frederick elevates for a kill in Our Redeemer's 3-0 victory over Bishop Ryan on Thursday night.

Makiah Frederick and the Knights were fed up.

Our Redeemer’s volleyball team walked onto its home court for Thursday night’s matchup against Bishop Ryan with the swagger of a team chasing its fifth consecutive district title. That assurance quickly turned into anxiousness, though, as the Lions showed no signs of backing down.

The two teams battled to a 10-point stalemate in the opening set, struggling to gain any separation. That’s when Frederick came in. Bishop Ryan had no answer as the 6-foot-3 middle hitter patrolled the net and sent back strikes with ease.

The senior’s emergence awoke the rest of the Knights’ offense as they went on a 15-3 run to close out the set. From that point on, the night belonged to Our Redeemer’s.

“We just knew that we’d have to work for it,” Frederick said. “Being able to get a block and send the ball right down to the floor is one of my favorite things to do, though, and my team just did a great job of being there to support me.”

The Knights came out in the second set on a mission, ambushing the Lions with a 10-4 run that forced Bishop Ryan to burn a quick timeout. Even the brief intermission couldn’t cool down the home team as the Knights continued to distance themselves.

There almost appeared to be more than six black and blue jerseys on the court as Our Redeemer’s refused to let the ball hit the ground, flying around with one miraculous dig after another. The scoreboard reflected that hustle as the Knights claimed a commanding 25-18 win in the second set.

“I was really impressed with our defense,” head coach Kara Nunziato said. “They were our unsung heroes tonight for being able to keep us alive out there.”

Not much changed in the third set as Our Redeemer’s placed the finishing touches on the match. The Knights jumped out to an early 8-2 lead thanks in part to Cheyenne Lang. The freshman outside hitter set the tone, driving home a pair of kills during the run.

Although the Lions fought hard from the start, the road team never managed to claim the lead in the set. A powerful kill down the left sideline by freshman setter Eden Olson finally put Bishop Ryan away, giving the Knights a 25-15 win and the sweep.

Junior Annie Folden led the way for the Knights’ attack with seven kills while Frederick anchored the defense with two solo blocks.

“Bishop Ryan played phenomenal tonight,” Nunziato said. “Those were some of the longest rallies that we had to battle through this season. But I think we were consistently good when it counted, and we proved tonight just how much we can handle.”

The win is an encouraging sign for an Our Redeemer’s team that got its four-game win streak snapped by North Star on Tuesday in a 3-0 loss. Things aren’t about to get any easier, though, as the Knights must now prepare for Tuesday’s road match against Des Lacs-Burlington.

The Lakers gave Our Redeemer’s its biggest test of the season last year, finishing just one game behind the Knights in the district standings.

“We just know that it all comes down to our defense,” Frederick said. “DLB is such a good team, so we just need to work together if we want to win.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.