ST. MICHAEL – The top teams in the state continually seek competition that will force them to play at their best in order to survive. This weekend the Bemidji volleyball team tested itself against such a field and the Lumberjacks passed the examination, placing fourth at the prestigious St. Michael Invitational.
In Friday’s action the Jacks stopped Centennial 2-1 and Owatonna 2-0. Those victories vaulted Bemidji into Saturday’s eight-team championship bracket, along with the other 2-0 squads, and a quarterfinal match against Southwest Christian.
BHS dominated that contest, winning 25-16, 25-23. The triumph vaulted the Lumberjacks into the championship semifinals and a battle against Hopkins which is ranked in the top four among Minnesota’s Class 3A teams.
Bemidji lost that match 25-16, 23-25, 15-6 and also fell 25-19, 25-12 to Minnetonka in the third-place match.
“There were quality teams in this tournament, especially in Saturday’s championship division,” said BHS coach Teresa Colligan. “Advancing to the top four in this tournament is an accomplishment. This weekend we showed that we can compete against the best teams. We showed we can play at a high level. Now we need to be more consistent.”
Bemidji used its power game to thump Southwest Christian. Alexa Greendahl dished 22 assists and Jess Yost converted 14 of them into winning kills. Allie Heifort added nine kills and four blocks.
Myria Colley and Yost each contributed seven digs.
In the loss to Hopkins the winners were effective in stopping Yost and the Jacks couldn’t compensate.
“Hopkins took us out of our system in the first and third games,” Colligan said.
That trend continued in the loss to Minnetonka.
“We just didn’t’ play our game. We made too many errors in serving, receiving and blocking.
“But these are very good teams,” the coach continued. “This is the level of competition you will see at the state tournament and playing at this level was a very good experience for us.”
NOTES: Jess Yost was named to the All-Tournament Team as determined by the participating coaches … Bemidji improved to 14-5 with its fourth-place finish … The Lumberjacks will end their home season Tuesday against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Thursday sees them at Wadena.