VOLLEYBALL: Bemidji sweeps again with diverse attack, hard-fought 3rd set win
At times this season, the Bemidji High School volleyball team has made it look effortless.
BEMIDJI – At times this season, the Bemidji High School volleyball team has made it look effortless.
The Lumberjacks were at it again on Tuesday against Roseau at the BHS Gymnasium, breezing to back-to-back 25-16 set wins to start the match. Bemidji found a bumpier road after taking a 10-2 lead to start the third set, as the Rams fought back to tie the frame at 22-22.
But after the two teams traded 10 points in a row, Brooklyn Saiger blocked back-to-back balls at the net to clinch a 29-27 victory – plus a 3-0 overall win.
“I was hoping for easy breezy until the third set,” head coach Alicia Kriens said. “We tend to get comfortable, and that's what we did. We got comfortable, and then we had to really amp it up at the end there to pull out the win.”
BHS managed to escape with a victory in the third set, but the first two frames were thorough displays of dominance. Manifesting their goal of getting more hitters involved in the attack, the Jacks spread the ball to Saiger and Jordan Pemberton, complementing their usual terrific threesome of Beth Bolte, Elizabeth Oster and Mollie Rupp.
“We want five or six hitters that we can have to be able to put the ball away or get a good swing, so teams can’t just know, ‘Oh, they're going to set these three people every time they're in the front row,’” Oster said. “So we're getting Brooklyn involved, we're getting Jordan involved and getting them that confidence to swing at the ball every time.”
The top trio led the way again: Bolte had 10 kills, Oster brought down nine balls and Rupp grounded seven shots. But Saiger added four, and Pemberton put down two to diversify the Jacks’ offense.
“(Setter Margie Anderson) did a really nice job this match of spreading the ball pretty evenly,” Kriens said. “All five hitters were above double digits in the attempts column, which is what we were looking for – to not have Mollie have 50 and Brooklyn have two. That was really nice to see. Our block really stepped up, eight total blocks. So yeah, we did nice offensively.”
The three-set triumph over the Rams (8-7) marked the Lumberjacks’ second consecutive sweep and third win in a row, bringing their record this season to 8-7. The combination of two straightforward sets and one wobbly third didn’t match Kriens’ ideal execution, but it did serve as a basis for coaching points moving forward.
“I wanted to walk out of this match being like, ‘Hey, we killed it, great job,’” Kriens said. “But then that third set happened. You can never underestimate a team. Even coming (out for the) third set, I said, ‘You guys know what it's like being down 0-2 and how you come out on that floor. You're willing to lay it all out there to get that win.’ That's what Roseau did, and we weren't prepared for that. We need to be prepared for something like that.”
As the challenge of the upcoming section playoffs starts to emerge on the horizon, Kriens wants to see her team solidify a resilient mentality that enables them to finish off matches efficiently.
“Like I always say, this is preseason, so let's get it out right now so that come section time, we're prepared,” Kriens said.
With Bolte and Oster both in their senior seasons, the time is ripe for Bemidji to make a run.
“The urgency is very high for us, because we know how good we can be,” Oster said. “We know that when we don't play to our full potential, it shows. When we do, we can keep up with some really good teams and compete very well.”
Defensively, Bolte and Anderson paced BHS with 10 digs each, while Pemberton and Sammy Nistler contributed nine. Anderson set up the Lumberjacks’ hitters with 32 assists, Oster had four blocks and Rupp poured in three aces.
The Jacks return to the court for an invite hosted by St. Michael-Albertville on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7-8.
Bemidji 3, Roseau 0
ROS 16 16 27 – 0
BHS 25 25 29 – 3