ST. PAUL – The progression of the Bemidji High School volleyball program continued this weekend at the Class 3A state tournament.
A year ago the Lumberjacks advanced to the state meet for the first time in the program’s history. BHS, however, made a quick exit, losing its first two matches in straight sets.
This fall Bemidji successfully defended its Section 8-3A title and returned to the Xcel Center, hoping for better results.
After losing its opener against Blaine 3-0, BHS dominated Owatonna in Friday’s consolation semifinals. The 3-1 win provided the program’s first victory at the state meet and advanced the Lumberjacks to Saturday’s consolation championship match against Roseville.
Bemidji did not fare as well against the Raiders, however, as Roseville claimed the consolation crown with a 25-16, 25-18, 24-26, 25-20 win.
The Jacks finished the year 24-9 and playing three matches at the state meet was a great way to cap the season.
“The program definitely took another step this year,” said BHS coach Teresa Colligan. “We won some games at state and gained some confidence. This year we saw what winning at state is all about.”
Winning consistently at state will be the program’s next challenge. And Saturday the players learned that the winning teams do not give away many unchallenged points.
During the four-game match BHS committed 11 service errors and tallied only three aces. And those mistakes proved costly.
“We had too many errors. We struggled in some focus areas,” Colligan said. “Roseville is a good team and when you give points away like we did you can’t get any momentum.”
The Raiders claimed momentum early in the opening game with an 8-0 run that stretched a 5-4 lead into a 13-4 advantage.
Bemidji fought back and drew within 20-16 after spikes by Myria Colley, Allie Heifort and Jess Yost but the early deficit proved too large to overcome.
The trend continued in the second set and a 9-1 Roseville spurt snapped a 12-12 deadlock and gave the Raiders a 20-13 cushion.
The Lumberjacks avoided any extended pitfalls in the third set. The game featured 16 ties and seven lead changes and Timi Severson’s two winning spikes capped Bemidji’s 26-24 victory.
“We had moments of fine play but at this level you need fine play all of the time,” Colligan said.
Saturday’s finale followed the pattern of the first two games as Roseville forged a 6-1 run to take a 15-7 lead and the Lumberjacks never caught up.
Yost had 14 kills in her final high school match while Colley contributed 12 and Severson 11. Alexa Greendahl dished 42 set assists.
Colley had a terrific defensive game, tallying 20 digs. Jasmin Yerbich added 14 digs while Yost and Hanna Olson each finished with 13.
“When you look at the season you see that many good things happened,” Colligan said. “We finished sixth in the state and that’s not bad.”
NOTES: Fans are invited to a “welcome home” for the BHS volleyball team. The celebration will be held 4 p.m. Sunday at the BHS commons.