Defending champ Century drops Davies in state volleyball semifinals
Early in Friday’s Class A state volleyball tournament semifinal match, a Fargo Davies student was heard expressing a sentiment many coaches have likely felt when facing Bismarck Century star hitter Lauren Ware this season.
“It’s not fair.”
Arguably the most dominant player in the state, Ware came out firing, recording seven of her 16 kills in the first set while leading the Patriots one match closer to a fourth-straight state title with a 25-22, 25-16, 26-24 win over Davies.
Ware established dominance immediately in the first set. She blasted a kill on the opening possession of the first set and accounted for five of Century’s first six points by herself.
The Eagles didn’t go away quietly, pulling within a point on three separate occasions, even cutting the deficit to 23-22 on a kill by Kenzee Langlie.
But after an uncharacteristically sluggish stretch in which she committed three hitting errors, Ware recorded her seventh kill of the set. On the next series, Julia Fitterer, who added 12 kills of her own, found an opening and slammed home the final point.
Knowing her team needed to be sharp against such a potent attack, Coach Missy Wilson said the Eagles were done no favors by an uninspired early showing on defense.
“It’s a little disheartening some of the things we were lacking in the first set,” Wilson said. “We were late on our block and weren’t pushing over so they were constantly (outplaying) us.”
Moved off the front line, Ware still found a way to make her presence felt in set two. She gave the Patriots their first lead with back-to-back aces, then added an assist during what became a 6-0 run. Ware recorded four of her five aces in the second set.
Needing a last-gasp effort, the Eagles got one in set three, as a block by Natalie Hallstrom and Madison Langlie got them to set point and a 24-22 lead.
That point would be Davies’ last though, as the Patriots proceeded to score the next four. Following a Davies error, Ward tied the set with a kill, then Hailey Fletcher gave the Patriots the lead back with another, as Century finished with a 44-29 kill advantage.
“There was some fight that came out (in the third set), but in the end we just didn’t play at our top level,” said libero Averi Beyer, the lone Davies senior.
Langlie had a team-high 12 kills for the Eagles, while Maggie Krueger had 14 assists and five aces.
While everyone else on the Eagle roster will have a shot at redemption next year, Beyer’s career is nearing its end, and she says she’s looking forward to playing one more match at Davies, even if it’s not in the round she was hoping for.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity to end on a win,” she said.
The Eagles will face West Fargo in the Class A third-place game at 3 p.m. Saturday.