Bemidji volleyball team beats Brainerd with some extra effort
With Bemidji leading in sets 2-0 and leading in the third game 18-11 Brainerd seemed to have earned a point when a spike bounced off the Lumberjacks defense and deflected well past the end line.
Hanna Olson, however, didn't give up. Instead of watching it hit the floor for a Brainerd point the sophomore gave chase. Olson was in full stride when she reached the ball and sent a two-arm pass over her head back into play.
Her teammates responded by pushing the ball into Brainerd's court and when Warrior middle hitter Sydnie Mauch spiked the ball into the mesh, the Lumberjacks were rewarded.
The play was typical of the effort BHS displayed during Tuesday's hard-fought 25-23, 25-23, 25-19 victory over the Warriors. Brainerd entered the contest with an 8-2-1 overall record and was 6-0-1 in its last seven matches.
The teams were evenly matched and Tuesday's result could have gone either way. In the end, however, Bemidji gave the extra effort that was required to post the victory.
"There isn't a bad team in the entire section and every section win is very important," said BHS coach Theresa Colligan. "Brainerd had a run on us right away but we battled back and once we got going we were able to keep it up."
The Lumberjacks were coming off a 2-3 record during last weekend's tournament in Marshall and at times during that tournament Bemidji was tentative on the court. That flaw is something the Jacks have tried to correct.
"One thing we did over the weekend is play not to lose rather than play to win," Colligan said. "We need to focus on playing to win and we did that (Tuesday). Even when we were behind early we didn't worry about the score or the situation. We just kept playing hard and building momentum."
Brainerd opened with an 11-3 run in the first game and appeared to be in control. The Lumberjacks weathered that early storm, however, and scored 12 of the next 15 points to forge a 15-14 advantage. The run was highlighted by eight consecutive points, seven of them while Jess Yost was serving.
The flurry began with a Brainerd serving error and before the Warriors knew what hit them Blake Bardwell and Jenna Sagedahl teamed for a stuff, Kellie Morehouse scored on a push, Bardwell connected with a spike and a stuff, Yost delivered an ace and Morehouse gave the Jacks a lead with a winning spike.
Brainerd recovered and opened a 21-16 cushion but, once again, BHS answered. A pair of Warrior miscues knotted the score 23-23 and this time the Lumberjacks closed the deal as Yost ripped a kill and Jasmin Yerbich delivered one of her three aces for the winning point.
The second game followed a similar script as Brainerd opened a 16-9 lead only to see Bemidji battle back to tie at 21-21 and eventually win the game behind Sagedahl's ace and Yost's tip.
In the final game Brainerd seemingly had tied the game 6-6 but two points were taken away and another penalty point was awarded to Bemidji when the officials determined that Brainerd had served out of order.
The Warriors never recovered from that mistake and Allie Heifort eventually ended the 95-minute match with a winning spike.
Sagedahl dished 27 assists and the offense turned those passes into powerful kills. Yost delivered 16 of the blows while Morehouse contributed nine and Heifort seven.
"Brainerd is a big blocking team and we knew that going in," Colligan said. "Our goal was to make Brainerd's blockers move and we did that by having our middle hitters move to different spots on the court."
Bemidji also had its share of blocks and leading the way was Bardwell with four.
In addition to Yerbich's three aces, Nicole McDonald, Olson and Bri Thorson each had two.
Yerbich also paced the Jacks with 12 digs. Olson finished with 10 and Sagedahl, Yost and Thorson each had nine.
Tuesday's win was Bemidji's sixth in nine matches. The Lumberjacks have a week off before returning to the court next Tuesday at home against Nevis.