Mary Young enjoys bringing her powerful Central Community College volleyball team to Bismarck.
The Columbus-Neb., based program beat the bad weather to town then fought off a scrappy effort from the home-standing Mystics in Game 1 of the District G championship series. The best-of-3 series resumes today at 11 a.m.
"We get treated really well in Bismarck. We have a lot of respect for the college. We love Jeni (Walsh). We love Buster (Gilliss) ... it's just a real fun environment to come and play in," Young said. "It's just unfortunate both of us can't win and carry on."
Central snapped BSC's 10-match winning streak, grinding out a 25-22, 25-17, 25-23 victory at the Armory.
The Mystics had momentum, and leads, in the first and third games, but couldn't close out the heavy-hitting Raiders.
"We just need to find that instinct in our gut to finish off a game," said BSC sophomore Jaycee Walter after a stellar 12-kill performance. "It's not over yet. It's still within reaching distance for us."
The Mystics (29-8) led 14-12 in the opening game and 19-18 in the third, but Central always seem to have the answer. Often it came from high-flying freshman Jacie Laetsch, who had 15 kills. Setter Paxton Throne dished out 33 assists and had five kills of her own.
"I thought we were a little messy tonight, especially in the first set, but we were able to pull it together," Young said. "I have a great group of young ladies and to be able to get this first one puts us is a good position."
The Mystics uncharacteristically struggled with hitting errors, but Central's large front line played a part.
"We can't afford to commit as many errors as we did against a great team like that," Walsh said. "We had momentum in each set, we just need to sustain it for longer periods."
Walter said the Raiders (33-10) represent a different level of competition than what they typically face.
"It's just different than what we're used to seeing," she said. "We don't normally play against teams that big. You just have to adjust to playing around their block."
Liza Doppler had nine kills and eight digs for BSC. Jesse Oja passed out 16 assists and Sam Anklam's 18 digs were team-leading.
Young doesn't expect the home team to go down quietly.
"I felt like we let our foot off the gas a couple of times and they took advantage of it like good teams do," Young said. "There's a lot at stake. Both teams will come out and give it all they have."
Walsh hopes her team brings the same energy, just with better execution.
"We just need to focus on our side of the net," she said. "Its great volleyball and two good teams having a nice battle."