BEMIDJI -- Despite a valiant effort that almost excused some costly miscues, the Bemidji High School volleyball team let one get away on Monday night.
“We’re right there. We’re so close, so hopefully we can just get over this hump,” BHS head coach Alicia Kriens said. “It’s definitely a learning game for us.”
The Lumberjacks hosted Pine River-Backus at the BHS Gymnasium for a back-and-forth match well worth the price of admission. But the visiting Tigers had just a bit more to give, winning 3-2 (25-16, 18-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-7).
And although Bemidji (4-5) got tagged with the loss, it wasn’t due to its lack of chances. PRB (15-1) stormed ahead 20-7 in the opening set, pushing the Jacks’ strong run late in the set into irrelevancy.
BHS still used the improved play for some second-set momentum, grabbing an early lead it never relinquished despite Pine River-Backus’ best efforts. Emma Huberty finished the job with a kill to end it at 25-18, and Bemidji even looked poised to win the third set. The Lumberjacks led 19-14 and later 24-22 as Taylor Wade took over, but four straight points to the Tigers drastically turned the match around in the 26-24 final.
“We struggled with (a slow start) tonight,” Kriens said. “Then we started off strong, and then we’d let it go. … We aren’t playing very level and consistent like I would like us to.”
The Lumberjacks took advantage of a do-over in the fourth set. Emily Wade dove for two pancake saves on a single point, keeping the rally alive for an ultimate PRB attack error, and Taylor Wade followed with a kill for a 19-15 lead.
This time, though, BHS stuffed the comeback.
The Tigers threatened within a point at 22-21, but Bemidji forced them into three straight errors that clinched a 25-21 Lumberjack win and sent the match to five sets.
The momentum didn’t last long, however. Pine River-Backus stormed ahead with a 6-1 lead, and although a Taylor Wade ace brought the Jacks back within 9-7, the Tigers closed the night with the next six points. A pair of aces from Olivia Adkins put the match to rest with the 15-7 silencer.
“We talked about having that slow start,” Kriens said. “And then also the mental game at the end, where the feel on the court ends up being different because now there’s added pressure. Game five, there’s no next game. You have to be able to finish it right now. We need to find a way to make that added pressure to happen in practice so it doesn’t come as a new thing to them.”
Taylor Wade led the attack with 16 kills and a .240 hitting percentage, as well as five aces. Hofstad followed with 12 kills, while Emily Wade dished out 39 set assists on the night. Defensively, Emily Wade and Jenna Anderson piled up 20 and 19 digs, respectively, and Hofstad’s two blocks led the team, as well.
Bemidji will next travel to Grand Rapids for a 7:15 p.m. matchup on Thursday, Sept. 19.