Lexus Musbrucker's powerful jump serve proved key for Bismarck High on Thursday.
The hard-serving senior powered in five aces for the Demons, including two in the pivotal first set, as the Demons topped Mandan 3-1 in quarterfinal action of the West Region tournament.
In the rubber match between the two teams, the win pushed BHS into the semifinals and earned some bragging rights on the Braves' home floor.
"Both matches against them this season have been close, but to win this one is really big," Mosbrucker said. "We knew it would be a tough game, but we played together and we played with heart and that got us through."
Heavy hitting from Mosbrucker and Lauryn Andre played no small part. Andre belted 15 kills, while Mosbrucker connected for 11 as the Demons registered a 25-18, 25-20, 13-25, 25-23 victory.
"I thought we played really well," BHS coach Josette Timian said. "In that 4-5 matchup, you expect it to be close. Mandan is a good team and we've had close matches with them this season. This one was pretty important, so we're proud of how the girls came out and played."
Tied 12-12 in the opening set, back-to-back lasers from the service line from Mosbrucker gave the Demons a lead they never relinquished.
"I actually just started doing it last year," Mosbrucker said of her dynamic jump serve. "I never thought I'd be capable of doing a jump serve ... it's actually easier than you would think. Mostly, it's just a lot of practice."
Down 2-0, Mandan didn't go quietly.
Megan Zander had five of her team-best 12 kills in the third set as the Braves rolled 25-13. Mandan also got two aces from Kennedy Harris and another from Olivia Moe in the frame. Moe totaled 10 digs and seven kills.
In the end, the 0-2 hole was too deep.
"We just came out a little flat. We weren't passing and serving like we're capable of," Mandan coach Anna Folk said. "Give Bismarck credit. They played well.
"I was proud of how the girls fought back the third and fourth sets. That was more indicative of how we can play, but when you're down 2-0 that makes it tough."
Alie Glasser piled up 28 digs for the Demons. Her last one was a beauty. On match point, Glasser scooped up a rocket by Zander, passed it to Hannah Steckler, who teed it up for Kiaya Schwab for the win.
"I thought it was a really good team effort where everybody contributed," Timian said. "That's what you want to see in the WDA tournament. If we're going to achieve our goals, everybody has to chip in."
The Demons face Jamestown in the first semifinal match tonight at 5 p.m. The Blue Jays swept both previous matches.
"I don't think the last time the score shows how well we played," Mosbrucker said. "We know they're a good team. If we come out and play like we did at the start of the match, I think we can do some good things against Jamestown."
Mandan is in do-or-die mode against Dickinson at 1 p.m.
"The season's not over by any means," Folk said. "We can't be too discouraged. We missed out on our first goal, but there's still other goals for us to achieve. We have to stay positive and come back tomorrow and be ready to go."