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VOLLEYBALL: Bemidji 14U team wins First Flight championship

MINNEAPOLIS — The Bemidji Black Ice 14U Junior Olympic volleyball team outlasted Hawaii and Sunshine, Calif., Friday to claim the First Flight championship of the national tournament.

In three days of matches Bemidji compiled a 7-3 record. The Black Ice capped the week Friday by outgunning Hawaii 25-23, 14-25, 17-15 in the semifinals and edging California 30-28, 17-25, 15-8 in the First Flight title match.

“It was an intense day,” said Bemidji coach Netti Homer. “I’m excited for the girls. I knew we had the potential to be successful in this tournament and the girls really stayed on course.”

In the deciding game against Hawaii, Bemidji trailed 11-5 but, behind Casey Volkmann’s serving, the Black Ice tied the game at 11-11 and eventually claimed the victory.

The match against California was equally dramatic but Bemidji dominated the third game, taking a 7-0 lead from the outset and never looking back.

Victoria Johnson helped cement the victory with three kills in the waning stages of the rubber game. Lexi Wade added the exclamation point with an ace serve.

“It was an amazing week and an amazing experience for these kids,” Homer said. “Because the tournament was in Minneapolis we decided to go and we are glad that we did. Next year it is in New Orleans so I doubt we’ll be making plans to attend.”