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Bemidji tops Moorhead in five-set marathon thriller

BEMIDJI – Volleyball is an intricate game with all of its offensive schemes, defensive tactics and constant movement, but when you cut to the basics the game is all about getting the ball over the net and within the lines.

For two games Thursday night in Bemidji the Lumberjacks had no trouble accomplishing that feat against Moorhead. Starting late in the third game and throughout the fourth game, however, Bemidji misfired as often as it hit paydirt.

Trailing 13-10 in the fifth set and with the match on the line, the Jacks needed to return to their early accomplishments. Bearing the brunt of the assignment was setter Alexa Greendahl, who was at the service line.

Bemidji’s Jasmin Yerbich (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer)

If Greendahl was tense, she didn’t show it. The sophomore was perfect on five consecutive serves, and her teammates thanked her by turning all of those opportunities into points.

The combination resulted in a victory in the fifth set and a 25-17, 25-14, 26-28, 23-25, 15-13 marathon win.

“Give our sophomore setter a ton of credit for making all of those serves. We needed every one of them,” said BHS assistant coach Netti Homer.

For the better part of three games it appeared that Bemidji would require no late rally to claim victory. Crisp passing, accurate setting and domination at the net enabled the Jacks to intimidate Moorhead and post lopsided victories in the first two games.

The big guns took turns leading the charge in the opening set. Jess Yost held the hot hand early with a series of killer spikes.

Allie Heifort nailed three consecutive winners to give Bemidji a 9-5 cushion and a pair of blasts by Timi Severson upped the advantage to 14-7.

The Spuds were shellshocked and four consecutive Moorhead mistakes down the stretch set the table for Bemidji’s 25-17 win.

The second game was a mirror image of the first. The home team bolted to a 9-1 lead and never looked back.

Moorhead spent the entire game on its heels, ducking away from the vicious Lumberjack attacks instead of mounting a comeback effort.

Even when the Spuds managed to return a spike they did so in timid fashion. And Bemidji was quick to pounce on the next opportunity.

That trend continued in the third game and BHS seemed destined for a quick match with a 24-19 lead.

But the visitors, behind Amber Dorow’s serving and strong net play, tied the game at 24-24, and a pair of missed tips by the Jacks gave the Spuds a 28-26 win.

More importantly, that rally breathed new life into Moorhead.

The Spuds continued to press in the fourth set and a 3-1 run with the game tied at 22-22 resulted in a 25-23 win and forced a fifth game.

Moorhead maintained the momentum throughout much of the final set and led 10-5 after an ace by Maddie Swanson.

Lexi Johnson’s stuff later in the game gave Moorhead a seemingly insurmountable 13-9 lead but Blake Bardwell’s winning spike brought the Jacks within 13-10 and set the table for Greendahl’s magic at the service line.

“No matter the outcome, this match will help us,” Homer said. “We were up 2-0 in games and we learned that we can’t take anything for granted.

“But the good thing is we found a way to come back and beat Moorhead.”

Thursday’s triumph kept BHS unbeaten at 4-0. The Jacks will be off until Tuesday when they travel to Brainerd. 

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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