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Volleyball: Bemidji begins Homecoming week with victory over Hibbing

Alexa Greendahl (No. 9), Emily Falldorf (No. 12) and Myria Colley create a formidable wall for Hibbing’s Brylee Hocking during Tuesday’s match. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Last weekend the Bemidji volleyball team faced the defending Minnesota champions in Class 2A (Marshall) and in Class A (Bethlehem Academy), a team that could challenge for a state title in Class 2A this year (Waconia) and a perennial power in Class 3A (Apple Valley) during its trip to the Apple Valley Invitational.

The Lumberjacks defeated the host team, fell in three sets to Waconia and Bethlehem Academy and dropped a straight-set decision to Marshall.

Tuesday night at the BHS gym the Jacks squared off against Hibbing, a team which did not present the challenges that Bemidji faced at Apple Valley. And the Lumberjacks did what was expected, downing the Bluejackets 25-13, 25-17, 15-16.

“We wanted to play our game and stay at our level,” said Bemidji outside hitter Myria Colley. “Against Hibbing we were able to work on the little things that a team needs to be able to do. We were able to mix things up and try some different hits and some different sets.”

Developing a quick, compact set and spike game has been among the Lumberjacks’ goals this fall and Tuesday night setter Alexa Greendahl was on the same page as her hitters.

“At the Apple Valley tournament we saw teams which used the quick sets very well,” said BHS assistant coach Netti Homer. “We’ve worked on developing that set and kill all year but during the past two days we focused on that weapon. We know that when you play the top teams you need to be able to go to the quick set.”

Greendahl’s favorite target with the quick set on Tuesday was Emily Falldorf and the teammates took full advantage of the tool. Greendahl dished 27 set assists and many of them went to Falldorf who led the Jacks’ attack with 10 kills.

Greendahl contributed nine winners but most of hers were tips and push shots that surprised Hibbing’s defenders.

Colley added seven kills, Claire Laakso six and Brylee Colligan five.

“We are a better team when we get everyone involved and, as shown by the balance in our kills, we were able to do that against Hibbing,” Homer said. “This is Homecoming week and it was a nice opportunity for us to work on some things and to give girls who don’t typically get in, some playing time.”

Bemidji’s coaching staff had the luxury of inserting players throughout each game. In the opener the Jacks bolted to an 8-1 advantage and never looked back.

The second set was played on more equal terms but BHS (5-7) used the serving of Karlie Leif, Falldorf, Greendahl, Talia Lucken and Hanna Olson to turn a 12-12 tie into a 25-17 win.

The finale also was knotted at 6-6 before Colley’s serving sparked a 7-0 run. Kelsey Olson had the honor of delivering the final blow when her spike provided the finishing touch to a 25-16 win.

“We’re playing well,” Colley, who played vital roles in Bemidji’s runs to the state tournament the past two seasons, said. “We’re finding our roles and clicking. Everyone is putting in the extra effort we need to move forward.

“I see bright things ahead for this team.”

The Jacks will test themselves again this weekend when they travel to Hopkins for a nine-team tournament. BHS has been placed in a pool with Eastview and Armstrong.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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