BRAINERD -- The Bemidji High School volleyball team is making a habit of impressive wins late in the season.
Tuesday’s edition was a 3-0 sweep over Brainerd (25-22, 25-17, 25-21), as the Lumberjacks beat the Warriors for the first time since 2017 and for the first time in their own house since 2016.
“After losing two years ago to them in sections, the girls who are still here who were a part of that team, they really wanted this win,” Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens said. “It was on their list of things, and it was on my list, too.”
The sweep marks four in five matches for the Jacks (8-8), and it’s even sweeter that it comes against a section opponent ranked ahead of them. No doubt, that victory will look good on their resume.
“Walking out of here with a sweep is huge for us when it comes to section time,” Kriens said. “We had a game plan coming in, and the girls executed it really well.”
Bemidji (8-8) set the tone with a 7-1 start in the opening set, then added on with another burst that made for a 20-13 lead. The Warriors (15-10) closed within 20-17, but the Lumberjacks held on at the finish. Margie Anderson dished to Elizabeth Oster for the set-clinching kill, and Oster powered down the 25-22 win.
In the second set, the decisive run came a little later. After going down for the first time all night at 9-7, Bemidji reeled off nine straight points as part of a 13-1 run to flip the game on its head. The sudden 20-10 advantage, capped by a Beth Bolte ace, held firm to the finish at 25-17.
“Their focus and determination tonight (sticks out to me),” Kriens said. “There were a lot of… things that could have gotten in their way, and it didn’t. We stayed very focused and in the game. I’m very proud of them for the way they played tonight.”
Once again in the third set, the Jacks wasted no time. Bolte tallied two more aces during a 6-0 start, and although Brainerd rallied from there, Bemidji wouldn’t be denied.
That never rang more true than during a chaotic scramble midway through the set, when Kennedy Smith produced a kick save that kept things alive for an Allie Lillquist kill later in the point.
Bolte later rifled down another kill to make it 21-13 and put the Lumberjacks on the doorstep. Not long after that, Lillquist fired down a lethal kill that clinched the match at 25-21.
“With every win that we’ve had, there’s a little bit more confidence and a little bit more trust between each other on the court,” Kriens said. “They’re realizing how good they actually are. Every win is a little bit more of a confidence-builder. They are starting to really believe in themselves.”
Bolte finished the night with 10 kills and six aces, while Oster tallied nine kills and four blocks. Anderson dished out 27 set assists, and Jody Pemberton tallied 12 digs.
Bemidji will next compete in the St. Michael-Albertville Invite on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15-16.
The Jacks open against Rogers at 6:15 p.m. Friday and then face either Monticello or Waconia at 8:45 p.m. After Friday’s action shakes out, Bemidji will have three matches on Saturday with to-be-determined opponents.