VOLLEYBALL: Toss up turns awry for BHS in tight 3-0 loss

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Bemidji senior Jenna Anderson (2) passes a serve in a match against Brainerd on Monday at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- If a coin flip truly does present 50-50 odds, the Bemidji High School volleyball team would like a redo.

The Lumberjacks played neck-and-neck with Brainerd on Monday night inside the BHS Gymnasium, but the Warriors won every set for a 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-21) score that didn’t do justice to a close match.

“A loss when you’re playing Brainerd, that’s always tough,” Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens said. “But, like I told the girls in the (postgame) huddle, overall that was a better match than we played against Alexandria. Even though we took a set in Alex, we played our most consistent match tonight.”

The Jacks (1-5) played with the lead for much of the night, but closing out sets proved to be too big of a hurdle in the end.

“We just need to stay mentally in the game. I don’t know if we get caught up or what,” Kriens said. “Especially when it gets tight, teams tend to tip and roll and give you a lot of junk over the net. That’s something that we’re not always the greatest at handling. I feel like that’s what happened tonight.


“We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty, and we say, ‘OK, watch the tips and rolls.’ And we’re letting balls drop to the middle of the court or it’s going off a hand. We’re just not doing those little tiny things and then anticipating the junk coming over.”

BHS played the aggressor in the first set, reeling off an 8-1 run to set the tone for a 10-6 edge. The lead held steady at 19-15, but Brainerd (3-2) ultimately flipped a 21-20 deficit into a 25-22 winner.

Set No. 2 played out just the opposite to start, as the Warriors were in front 16-11 thanks to an Iyana Pickar kill, but then Bemidji mounted a rally.

Emily Wade started a surge with a block, and Beth Bolte ended a tying 5-0 run on a kill that galvanized the Lumberjack sideline.

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The Lumberjacks cheer from the bench during a match against Brainerd on Monday at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“Our blockers looked great,” Kriens said of the defense. “We did a nice job of closing and shutting down (Kate Stadum) down the line, that’s where she was trying to go all night. Same with (Karlie Anderson) in the middle. … I was happy with those things. We have a ways to go with defense, as well.”

The pendulum swung back toward Brainerd too early for BHS, however. Although Bemidji led 23-22, consecutive kills from Hala Davis, Anderson and Stadum clinched the set and put the Jacks in a 2-0 hole.


Throughout another back-and-forth thriller in the third set, nobody led by more than two points until a bad serve receive from Bemidji put them down 21-18. Shortly thereafter, a scorching kill from Pickar was the final nail in the coffin of a 25-21 decision.

Although the night played out like a toss up, it will be remembered by Brainerd sneaking out on top each time.

“If we keep moving in this direction, getting better every single day and making those small changes, (we’ll be OK),” Kriens said. “When do we want to be at our best? At the end. I feel like we’re making the strides to get there. We’re really making the effort to make those small changes so we can be at our best come the end of the season.”

Jenna Anderson led a solid defensive performance with 19 digs -- including a number of highlight-worthy diving efforts -- while Bolte had three of the team’s five blocks. Offensively, Kate Hildenbrand tallied a team-high nine blocks and hit a team-high .368. Allie Lillquist added seven kills at a .250 clip, while Wade facilitated the attack with 28 set assists. Bolte added three aces, as well.

Bemidji is next in line to travel to Fergus Falls for a 7 p.m. match on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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