102617-spt-bsc-vball-champs

The members of the Bismarck State College volleyball team celebrate after defeating North Dakota State College of Science 3-0 to win the Region XIII title Wednesday night at the Armory.

MIKE MCCLEARY, TRIBUNE

Set 1 didn't want to end Wednesday night between Bismarck State College and North Dakota State College of Science.

But when it finally did, the Mystics rode Big Mo all the way to a region championship.

After fending off four set points, BSC outlasted the Wildcats for a 31-29 victory in the opening game and steamrolled from there to a 3-0 win in the Region 13 championship match at the Armory. It was the first region title for the Mystics since 2013.

"Whenever it goes back and forth past 25, honestly, it's pretty much 50-50," BSC star freshman Liza Doppler said. "After we were able to pull that one out, we pretty much rode the momentum from that.

"That was a pretty incredible set. It was totally up in the air, but when we finally were able to close it out, we really wanted it from that point on."

The opening set, which lasted nearly a half hour, had a little bit of everything, including BSC running out of subs. Sidney Mann, a defensive specialist, ended up playing the front row and one point and even delivered a crucial kill. Hannah Hanson's block finally ended it at 31-29.

"I looked in front of me and everybody was really tall, and I looked beside me and everybody was really tall and I'm 5-foot-4," Mann said. "My teammates were yelling, 'Get it over, get it over.' I wasn't trying to hit a spot. I just didn't want to hit it into the block or hit it into the net and I ended up getting a kill. ... It was crazy."

Mann's unexpected contribution was indicative of the Mystics' season, one in which virtually everyone on the roster has contributed.

"These girls are so much fun to play with," Mann said.

Doppler, who pounded 16 kills in the victory, agreed.

"Honestly, I can't think of a single time where anybody on the team fought," she said. "We've bonded super well and there's so much trust in each other. It's been such a great experience."

After taking the first set in heart-stopping fashion, the Mystics powered through the final two sets, 25-17 and 25-14.

"That first set was so intense, but the girls held it together very well," BSC head coach Jeni Walsh said. "I think I stared to breathe again in the third set sometime."

The Mystics, who improved to 29-7 with the win, have won 11 in a row. Hanson added seven kills while Caitlyn Inman connected for six.

BSC will have some time to enjoy its region title before hosting the best 2-out-3 district championship on Nov. 3-4. Central College (Neb.) is the likely opponent. Central College has won the last seven district titles. The winner advances to the NJCAA Division II national tournament in Charleston, W.V., on Nov. 16-18.

"We had this goal in mind since the first day of tryouts," Doppler said. "It's been such a great season. We've had so much fun. We fit together so well as a team and you can't ask for anything more than that."

Jessie Oja passed out 20 assists for the Mystics, while Alyssa Beck had 18. Beck also served two aces. Defensively, Sam Anklam led in digs (10) and Jaycee Walter's two blocks were a team-high in front of nearly a full house.

"Mystics fans are the greatest," Walsh said. "They follow us year after year in this tiny little gym and we love it."

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