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VOLLEYBALL: Margie Anderson dishes 1,000th assist in 5-setter to remember

Margie Anderson went wild when she recorded her 1,000th career set assist. But the highlight of the match was met with a beaten-up, worn-down, uncomfortably dense volleyball -- one that used to get chucked across the gym in disgust by Anderson but now bears her name and grand milestone.

092422.S.BP.BHSVB Margie Anderson 2.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Margie Anderson (15) celebrates with her teammates after recording her 1,000th career set assist during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Most milestone moments are christened with a cherished keepsake that commemorates the history.

Margie Anderson, however, is now the proud owner of a memento on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Anderson went wild on Tuesday when she recorded her 1,000th career set assist for the Bemidji High School volleyball team as part of a 3-2 loss to Buffalo at the BHS Gymnasium. But the highlight of the match was met with a beaten-up, worn-down, uncomfortably dense volleyball -- one that used to get chucked across the gym in disgust by Anderson but now bears her name and grand milestone.

“My freshman year, that ball would always come up,” Anderson said. “I just could not set it. I could not stand it. It disappeared this year, and now it came back right when I got to 1,000.”

092422.S.BP.BHSVB Margie Anderson.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Margie Anderson (15) sets the ball to Elizabeth Oster (10) for her 1,000th career assist during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

The Lumberjacks saved the practice ball for this particular moment, a tongue-in-cheek presentation that’s been building for the past year and a half. And that in itself is a statement: Anderson hit the mark hardly midway through her sophomore season.

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“It’s a tribute to how much work she’s put in,” Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens said. “It’s the time she’s put in the gym and how diligent she is with the things I ask her to do. This is a huge deal for her, and hopefully she can hit that 2,000 mark by her senior year.”

RELATED: Margie Anderson wins special match in mother's honor

Anderson racked up 42 set assists in the loss, and she now sits at 1,012 in her fledgling career. The moment, a low pass that Elizabeth Oster hammered down early in the fourth set, sent the crowd into pandemonium.

Kriens tried to present Anderson with an old friend -- that pesky purple ball -- and Anderson playfully batted it away before ultimately lifting it high to embrace the moment. Her teammates did the same around her.

“My coaches have been super supportive of me and have pushed me to do my best. So has my team,” Anderson said. “It feels good to have the team supporting me. They were just as excited as I was.”

092422.S.BP.BHSVB Beth Bolte.jpg
Bemidji senior Beth Bolte swings during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

The match itself was a five-set barnburner. Anderson had 11 assists in the first set, including a set up to Mollie Rupp that finalized a 25-18 win.

Momentum kept rolling early in the second, where the Jacks (5-6) built a 7-1 lead. But the Bison (10-6) rallied for 10 straight points behind a formidable serve and a staunch wall of blockers, then cruised to a 25-16 win.

In the third set, the two sides went back and forth, trading big blows akin to a classic heavyweight fight. With the score resting at 27-27, a pair of Bemidji errors handed Buffalo the 29-27 victory and kept Anderson at 999 assists.

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She hit quadruple digits early in the fourth, and the Lumberjacks ensured it didn’t go to waste by gutting out a 25-23 win. But it wasn’t meant to be in the fifth set, because the Bison broke out in front 11-3 and never looked back -- winning 15-7 in the end.

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Bemidji sophomore Sammy Nistler dives for the ball during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

“It was a fun match,” Kriens said. “The girls responded well the entire match. Even when we were down, they never got discouraged. … As disappointing as the loss is, I’m happy with the way that we played. And I think Margie’s going to walk away knowing it was a hard-fought battle by us.”

Anderson dished her passes to Bemidji’s three-headed monster in Rupp (17 kills), Oster (15 kills) and Beth Bolte (12 kills). Jordan Pemberton had three of the Jacks’ nine aces, while Adie Potratz paced the defensive front with 22 digs.

Bemidji now returns to the road to face Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Grand Rapids.

Buffalo 3, Bemidji 2

BUF 18 25 29 23 15 -- 3

BEM 25 16 27 25 7 -- 2

092422.S.BP.BHSVB  Alicia Kriens and Margie Anderson.jpg
Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens gives Margie Anderson a hug and a commemorative ball after recording her 1,000th career set assist during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
092422.S.BP.BHSVB Brooklyn Saiger.jpg
Bemidji junior Brooklyn Saiger (5) swings during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
092422.S.BP.BHSVB Mollie Rupp.jpg
The Lumberjacks celebrate after Bemidji sophomore Mollie Rupp (4) gets a kill during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Lumberjacks celebrate after scoring a point during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
092422.S.BP.BHSVB Beth Bolte Brooklyn Saiger Mollie Rupp.jpg
From left, Beth Bolte (11), Mollie Rupp (4) and Brooklyn Saiger (5) high-five at the net during a match against Buffalo on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in the BHS Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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