Bismarck Century wins fourth straight volleyball title

Bismarck Century got its volleyball four-peat at the Minot State Dome Saturday night, but Mandan made the Patriots earn it.
With much of the near full house cheering for Mandan, the Patriots put together a clutch 9-0 run in the fourth set to erase an 11-7 deficit before closing out the set, and match, 25-21, 25-23, 24-26, 25-18.
“We know people don’t want us to win, we understand that and that’s OK,” said junior Lauren Ware, who tied her own state championship match record with 27 kills. “Putting on this Century Patriots jersey means and lot to the people that wear it. There’s a history and tradition behind it and part of that means teams really want to beat us. We just try to embrace that and add it to the challenge.”
Mandan mounted a spirited defense, despite falling behind 2-0. Two kills by Olivia Moe to end the third set gave the Braves a 26-24 victory and handed Century its first, and only, setback of the tournament.
“The past few weeks we’ve had our backs against the wall multiple times whether it’s down in the match or down in the set, but the girls have been really good about sticking with it and continuing to plug away,” Mandan coach Anna Folk said. “Obviously getting down 2-0 to them is not an ideal situation, but the girls were never frustrated or panicked they just went back out there and made a match of it.”
It looked like it might even go the distance.
Two errors by the Patriots, an ace by Megan Zander and a kill from Sydney Walters put Mandan up 11-7 in the fourth set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. But the Patriots answered in a big way, scoring the next nine points, the last two on back-to-back aces by Chloe Markovic, the second of which made it 16-11 Century.
“We called a timeout and told them, ‘This crowd had nothing to do with you getting here and they’re not going to have nothing to do with how we finish.’ But we have young players and they haven’t really experienced anything like that and it’s hard,” said Century coach Jamie Zastoupil. “We pulled it off with a rotation we’ve really struggled with all year long. We ended on that all three sets at the state tournament, but those young players really stepped up and finished it off for us.”