ST. PAUL – Following Friday’s 27-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-14 victory over Owatonna in the state Class 3A consolation semifinal, co-captain Jess Yost popped her head out of the locker room and, donning a smile that reached from ear to ear, giggled that the players couldn’t talk to anyone yet.
“We’re waiting for TC (head coach Teresa Colligan),” Yost said. “We can’t talk to anyone until she comes.”
The coach was a few minutes late to the locker room but she had an excused absence. Colligan had been busy talking to the media about Friday’s match, her team’s performance and the progression of the program.
A year ago the Lumberjacks made history by advancing to the state tournament for the first time. Unfortunately, they lost both of their matches and never were able to sample the sweet taste of victory.
In Thursday’s quarterfinal round BHS lost 3-0 to Blaine. That setback dropped Bemidji into the consolation bracket and Friday’s match against Owatonna.
This time, however, Bemidji was mentally and physically ready.
“To come back to state this year and get a win is great for the program,” Colligan said. “It also is nice for Section 8. Many times our section representative comes here and goes home after two matches. But this win shows that there are good teams in Section 8.”
Friday’s outcome proved that the Lumberjacks were better than Owatonna. As has been Bemidji’s custom at the state tournament during the past two years, the first game was evenly contested, featuring 12 ties and four lead changes. Unlike many of those first games, however, this time the Jacks claimed the important first set.
The teams were knotted 23-23 and traded points through 25-25. Yost, however, eventually settled the issue as she connected with a pair of winning spikes to give the Jacks the first-game victory.
Yost had 10 of her match-high 17 kills in the first game.
“Getting over the hump by winning that first game was very important,” Colligan said.
“We were excited to play. We knew what we had to do (Friday) and we gave it our all,” said junior outside hitter Myria Colley who ripped 10 kills and contributed nine digs during the match.
“This year we wanted to accomplish things at the state tournament. And Friday we did that.”
The Lumberjacks dominated much of the second set and a 6-1 run down the stretch iced the 25-17 triumph.
The Huskies did not go quietly, however. They avoided the shutout with a 3-0 run late in the third game that keyed a 26-24 win.
“After losing that third game we had to shake things off and play even better in the fourth game,” Colley said.
In the decisive set Owatonna came out strong and took a 3-1 lead. But BHS answered with a 4-0 run and maintained the pressure the rest of the way.
Leading 19-14 the Lumberjacks put the finishing touches on their match win with a 6-0 spurt. The run featured a pair of spikes by Timi Severson, a combined stuff by Colley and Blake Bardwell, and Colley’s spike.
“After losing that third game I could feel that the girls wanted to end it as soon as they could,” Colligan said. In the fourth game they came out intense. It was a great match for us but I still think that we can do more.”
BHS will take a 24-8 record into today’s 9 a.m. consolation championship match against Roseville. The Raiders, who defeated Anoka 17-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19 in Friday’s other Class 3A consolation semifinal, are 26-6.
“It feels good to get that first win at state and I know we’ll be ready to come back (Saturday) and do it again,” Colley said.
Yost lead the Lumberjacks offense with 17 kills. Allie Heifort added 14 and Colley 10.
Alexa Greendahl dished 44 set assists and contributed 11 digs. Yost paced the defense with 27 digs and Jasmin Yerbich collected 16.
Blake Bardwell was a constant thorn in the paws of the Huskies as the senior assisted on nine blocks. Severson had five block assists while Heifort had a solo block and assisted on three others.
Heifort also ripped a pair of aces.