ORCS volleyball sweeps Hazen on senior night
Although the Hazen Bison snatched the first two points of Tuesday evening’s volleyball contest at Our Redeemer’s, the Knights never wavered.
ORCS (2-1) fought back to defeat Hazen (0-3) in an emotional 25-9, 25-12, 25-14 contest. The Knights recognized four seniors — Halle Vibeto, Macy Lindquist, Kendal Braun and Olivia Nelson.
“It’s always fun to honor the seniors, especially when we weren’t sure what this fall would bring,” ORCS head coach Kara Nunziato said. “It’s definitely different to have senior night on the opener, but maybe it will be a new tradition. I’m so proud of the seniors. They’ve been with me from fifth grade. That’s when they started with me, and they have just come so far in what seems like a blink of time.”
The Bison erupted with joy after a few early points, but the Knights settled down and surged ahead during the latter stages of the first set.
“Sometimes, in the first couple of points, it takes you a minute to get your bearings,” Nunziato said. “I really appreciated that the girls didn’t panic. They stayed calm and focused and stayed true to what we’ve been working on in practice.”
Hazen put together some mini-rallies throughout the next two sets, but ORCS promptly squashed any hopes of a comeback. Knights junior setter Eden Olson engineered the attack and dished out a match-high 27 assists.
“I thought Eden Olson did a phenomenal job running an offense,” Nunziato said. “It was so smooth through the whole night. I think that really highlights how consistent our defense was, as well.”
Olson displayed her defensive prowess with a team-high 11 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Aubrey Griedl stifled Hazen’s offense with two solo blocks.
Vibeto led the Knights with a team-high seven aces. Junior outside hitter Sydney Popinga notched nine kills, while Nelson added eight.
“I think we’re working very well as a team,” Nelson said. “We saw that tonight.”
Nunziato was encouraged by the Knights’ resilience.
“I just think it’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “I think we proved that we can be a force to be reckoned with. I thought our serving was really assertive throughout the evening. Overall, our game shined.”
Hazen outside hitter Alyson Bosch led the Bison with two aces. Sophomore middle hitter Paige Erhardt tallied a team-high five kills.
“Ball control is a big thing for us,” Hazen head coach Alison Smith said. “It starts with the pass. We’ve just got to get a little better on the serve-receive right now.”
Both teams will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday. ORCS will travel to Velva, while Hazen will head to Glen Ullin/Hebron.
“I’m just so proud to be their coach,” Nunziato said. “It’s a real privilege.”
Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.