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ORCS falls 3-0 in state tourney to unbeaten Linton

Robert Brewer/MDN Sydney Popinga, seen here making a play on the ball in a home game earlier this season, led the Knights with six kills in an opening round loss to Linton in the state tournament on Thursday. The Knights are scheduled to take on Dickinson Trinity in the semifinal consolation round today at the Fargodome at 1 p.m.

Coming into the state tournament, Our Redeemer’s Christian School had enjoyed a late season hot streak, winning 11 of its last 12 games. However, Linton-HMB was the top-seeded team in the bracket, boasting an unblemished 22-0 record on the year.

As it turned out, Our Redeemer’s was defeated in its opening round Class B State Tournament contest by Linton 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-12). While Linton advances to the state semifinal round, Our Redeemer’s will move into the consolation semifinal bracket with an overall season mark of 17-8.

For the game, JayCee Richter led all players with 10 kills, and added 14 digs, two blocks and an ace for Linton. Sydney Popinga of Our Redeemer’s led her club in kills with six, and also recorded 11 digs and a pair of assists. Eden Olson added 17 assists in defeat, and Kendal Braun notched a game-high 24 digs for the Knights.

Afterwards, Knights’ head coach Kara Nunziato said that the final score was not indicative of how her team performed during the opening round of the statewide competition. “I thought our girls did a tremendous job overall,” Nunziato told the Minot Daily News via telephone. “We did a good job of forcing Linton to play through some long rallies, but they have some very talented hitters, and they have one of the best defensive systems in the state, so hats off to them.”

In particular, Nunziato was complimentary of the defensive output of her club as Our Redeemer’s registered 68 digs on the afternoon. “There were several players who helped keep the ball alive, which helped give us a chance to win some points. Mya (Vibeto), Sydney (Popinga), Olivia Nelson and Eden Olson were all solid contributors today,” the coach adds.

The Knights will now move to the consolation semifinal round for their next state tournament game on Friday at 1 p.m against Dickinson Trinity. In order to get the most out of the remaining two games in the tournament, Nunziato stresses the importance of playing as a collective unit. “We’ve been through a lot this year, and these girls have put in so much hard work. The key now is to just continuing to play together and enjoy the ride.”

In other Class B first-round action, Thompson beat Flasher 3-0, and Langdon defeated Kenmare in straight sets. Thompson and Langdon will face one another in the semifinal round on Friday at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Northern Cass will go on to play Linton in the semifinals following a 3-0 victory over Dickinson Trinity. The game featuring Northern Cass and Linton is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Fargodome.

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