A bad break for Jamestown opened the door for Century on Saturday in the West Region volleyball championship match.
When given the opportunity, the Patriots walked through it.
Tied 1-1 and with the Blue Jays leading 13-10 in the third set, West Region player of the year Megan Gaffaney collided with a teammate and had to leave the floor. Century rallied for a 25-18 win and 2-1 advantage. Gaffaney returned early in the fourth set, but Century rode momentum the rest of the way to another region title, this time in Mandan.
"It's amazing. This was the goal from the beginning," said senior defensive specialist Allison Abel, who had 21 digs. "We knew this would be a tough match. It always is against Jamestown, but we were able to pull it out."
The teams split the first two games with the Blue Jays taking the opener 25-20 before the powerful Patriots rolled 25-14 in the second to level it. Sophomore star Lauren Ware had six of her match-best 19 kills in the frame.
"We started swinging more aggressively. We told our girls, we can't win a tipping game with them. They're too good defensively," Century coach Jamie Zastoupil said. "We also started blocking much better. They're a good hitting team. We needed to start slowing that ball down."
The Blue Jays appeared in control in Set 3, taking a 10-5 advantage on a serving error by Century, a kill from Alyssa Ukestad and a block from Kameron Selvig.
Still up 13-10, Gaffaney went down and was helped to the locker room after landing hard on the floor. After Selvig, Gaffaney's understudy, teed up a kill for McKayla Kurtz, and Peterson fired in an ace, Jamestown was still in front 17-16. But, the Patriots finished the set on a 9-1 run.
Stabilizing the situation was difficult for the Blue Jays with their all-state setter sidelined, said JHS coach Sara Hegerle.
"Our kids competed hard before things got crazy, and even afterwards," she said. "It's just tough because when you write out your story for the year, that's not one of the chapters that's in the story, but the story is not over. There are still chapters to write."
Gaffaney returned with Jamestown down 4-2 in the fourth after kills by Ware and Megan Anderson. Later, Abel zipped in consecutive aces and Julia Fitterer terminated and the Patriots grabbed a 9-4 lead they never relinquished.
"Passing is my role, but it's always good to be able to help out with a few serves ... or whatever the team needs," Abel said. "Everybody gave everything they had. It's a great feeling for our team."
Anderson clubbed 12 kills for Century, while Katelyn Selensky passed out 38 assists.
Stats for Jamestown were not provided.
Despite the setback, Hegerle expects her team to respond well at state, which begins Thursday at the Fargodome.
"We've been in this situation before. It's not what we wanted for the kids because they wanted it so bad," Hegerle said. "It's disappointing. There has to be disappointment, otherwise they're not athletes, but we'll move forward and get ready for the next stage."
Bismarck 3, Minot 1
The Demons, who came into the tournament as the No. 5 seed, earned a state tournament berth with a 3-1 win over No. 6 Minot in a state-qualifying match.
Lauryn Andre and Lexus Mosbrucker each had 10 kills and Kiaya Schwab added eight for Bismarck, which took the first two games by scores of 25-17 and 25-18. Minot took the third, 25-19, before the Demons closed it out with a 25-17 victory in the fourth game.
Courtney Hawkinson and Olivia Dickerson each had a pair of blocks, Hannah Steckler had 21 assists and three aces, Andre had 16 digs and Lexi Heisler had four aces.
Caitlyn Messner led the Majettes with 11 kills.
Mandan 3, Legacy 2
Mandan, the No. 4 seed, edged No. 3 seed Legacy in a marathon five-game state qualifier.
The Braves won the final game 16-14. The Braves opened up a 2-0 lead with 25-13 and 25-12 wins before the Sabers battled back with 26-24 and 25-13 wins to force a decisive fifth game.
Megan Zander led the Braves with 16 kills, while Courtney Olson added 12 and Lakyn Darras had 10. Zander had seven blocks, Kennedy Harris had 33 assists and a pair of aces and Elizabeth Leingang posted 43 digs.
Becca Nitsch had 12 kills and Whitney Thomas 10 for Legacy. Ashley Hulm had four blocks, Emma Fricke had 19 assists, Kayla Schreiner posted 31 digs and Nitsch, Fricke and Allison Guthmiller each had two aces.