Over the course of the season a green-as-grass Century team has been learning the art of varsity volleyball. Tuesday night they got a crash course in intensity.
No growls were heard, but fangs were bared and ears were laid back as the Patriots ground out a 3-2 victory over Jamestown in West Region volleyball at Century's Olson gym.
"(Intensity) would be a very good word for it, yes," said CHS senior hitter Megan Anderson after the Patriots handed Jamestown its first regional loss by a margin of 25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-22, 17-15.
"Tonight was a big match ... so we came out with a little extra fight and showed what Century was capable of," Anderson continued.
Both teams hit the floor ready to play tournament-level volleyball. Every point was contested with all-out effort and leads came and went time and again.
The teams battled through 44 ties in the match, but only one of them occurred in the fourth game as Century, down two games to one, fought to avoid defeat.
Lauren Ware, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, drilled two kills as Century jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the pivotal fourth game. Jamestown, tenacious all night, pulled even at 16 on a tap by senior Alyssa Ukestad.
A kill by freshman Julia Fitterer started a four-point run that put Century ahead 20-16. Jamestown scored three straight points to cut the CHS edge to 20-19, but at that point the Patriots took charge, scoring five of the final eight points. Anderson rapped two kills and Ware came through with 2.5 blocks in the decisive surge.
There were six ties in the final set, the final three at 13, 14 and 15.
Jamestown served at game-point, but Century knotted the set at 15 on a kill by Fitterer. Kills by Ware and, again, Fitterer followed to give Century the match.
Century overcame a 13-6 deficit to win the first game. Jamestown prevailed 25-19 in the second game, which featured a dozen deadlocks. Jamestown claimed the third set 25-23. The Blue Jays broke away from the 17th and final tie at 23 via a CHS violation and a kill by Alyssa Ukestad.
That set the stage for Century's back-to-the-wall comeback.
"That's kind of been the story of our season," Century coach Jamie Zastoupil noted. "We find ourselves in holes and we have to dig ourselves out. It would be nice if we didn't get into those holes, but digging ourselves out is a good thing."
Anderson said the comeback victory taught her some encouraging things about the Patriot team.
"We now know what our team is made of, and how hard we can fight," she said. "... We learned how much energy we can exert. We learned how hard each and every one of us can play."
Anderson said Jamestown is an extremely tough team to play.
"Their defense is phenomenal. It makes it tough for a hitter when they dig everything out," she noted.
Just about everything. The Blue Jays logged 91 digs on the night.
The outcome leaves Century and Jamestown tied atop the West Region with 9-1 records. They have six matches remaining.
Jamestown coach Sara Hegerle said five-game setbacks are hard to swallow, but she said Tuesday's match was a step forward in one respect.
She said picking up two losses in the Fargo Scheels tournament last weekend was a downer for the Blue Jays.
"We lost our spirit. Our spirit was down after Fargo. Our spirit was back tonight. We just came up a little short," she observed.
"We haven't had losses on the road, and this is our first conference loss, so it means more. And it should mean more," she added.
Both teams are idle until next week. Century visits Minot next Tuesday and Jamestown goes on the road to Mandan that night.