FARGO — In the serving department, Morgan Freije describes her performance this season as inconsistent.
“I’ve had some rough patches with my serving,’’ the Langdon-Edmore-Munich sophomore said. “It’s been hit and miss.’’
On Thursday, it was a hit. Freije had eight service aces, including six in an early 17-0 run. That spurt started the Cardinals to a 25-6, 25-12, 25-8 win over Flasher in the quarterfinal round of the North Dakota Class B state high school volleyball tournament in the Fargodome.
Flasher led just once in the match, at 1-0 in the opening set. That’s when Freije took over at the service line after a sideout and aced six times in the 17-0 spurt.
“We always try to serve aggressively,’’ Freije said. “I was kind of surprised, though. That definitely was one of my better serving runs of the season.’’
Said L-E-M coach Rich Olson: “Morgan got on a role. She’s done that several times this season. She’s an aggressive server.’’
But 17 unanswered points? “Never that much of a role. You don’t expect that,’’ Olson said.
The Cardinals finished with 14 aces and scored on serves in several big runs. Langdon-E-M started the second set with nine unanswered points, with Lexi Olson getting a pair of aces. Calyn Crockett capped a 6-0 third-set run with a pair of aces to give the Cardinals a 10-2 advantage.
“That’s been a strength of our team,’’ Rich Olson said. “One through six in our serving rotation, any of those girls can get on a roll and get aces.
“It (Freije’s 17-0 serving run) settled us down right away. Everybody was anxious to get going. Morgan did a great job of setting the tempo.’’
Youth led the way for the Cardinals. In addition to Freije, who had five kills and two blocks to go with her serving, 6-foot eighth-grader Cora Badding had a match-high 10 kills.
“She’s only had double-digit kills in two matches this year,’’ Rich Olson said. “Hopefully there will be more to come. The ball was going to her today.’’
The Cardinals had advantages of 30-10 in kills, 14-1 in service aces and 8-3 in blocks. Callie Ronningen had four blocks as well as eight kills.
“Flasher had some height,’’ Rich Olson said. “We blocked well. We needed to take advantage of our length, and the blocking was really solid. Callie did a great job.’’
Tymber Boldt had five kills to lead Flasher. She was the team’s only player with more than two.
Langdon-Edmore-Munich plays Our Redeemer’s in a semifinal match at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.
Minot Our Redeemer’s 3, Dickinson Trinity 0
Minot Our Redeemer's got challenged in the second set of the state quarterfinals on Thursday at the Fargodome, and the No. 2 seed responded.
The Knights rallied for victory in the second set en route to a 25-13, 28-26, 25-18 victory over Dickinson Trinity to advance to the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament.
"I think that second set was really important," said Our Redeemer's senior middle hitter Annie Folden, who had a match-high 20 kills. "They really pushed our limits."
The Knights (40-3-2) are set to play at 5 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. Our Redeemer's is making its six consecutive appearance in the state tournament.
"I think experience always brings more confidence," said Our Redeemer's head coach Kara Nunziato. "These girls have played in a lot of big moments, whether it be this season or the season before."
Folden also thinks that previous state tournament seasoning is helpful.
"Experience means a lot," said Folden, who has played in three state tournaments and was also on the varsity as a freshman. "It really helps me know how to play in tight moments and in a big environment that I'm not used to."
Trinity took a 21-19 lead in the second set after a kill from junior middle hitter Amaya Willer, who led her team with 14 kills. The Knights, who trailed 6-1 earlier in the second, countered with three of the next four points. Folden had back-to-back kills to tie the score at 22-22.
The Titans took a 24-23 lead after a kill from junior hitter Abby Kubas. Folden answered with a kill that tied the score at 24-24, fending off a Trinity set point.
"I think I do really well under pressure," Folden said. "It's something that I like to work under pressure. It really motivates me and helps me put the ball away."
Junior defensive specialist Kendal Braun closed out the match for the Knights, with a serve that Trinity couldn't handle. Our Redeemer's took the second set 28-26 and grabbed a 2-0 lead in the match.
"Winning the second set was imperative in terms of how we finished today's match," Nunziato said. "I think it was good for the girls to step up and play with a point deficit."
Folden said the Knights didn't do anything special to rally in that second set.
"We just calmed down and played how we always do," Folden said. "Making adjustments in those times I don't think are as good because you need to play how you always do."
The Knights rode that momentum into the third set and raced to a 12-4 lead. Folden had three kills during that early surge that helped vault Our Redeemer's to a sweep. The Knights finished off the match with a 25-18 victory in the third set.
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The 6-foot Folden also had strong match serving, finishing with seven aces.
"I feel like I was really good at serving today," Folden said. "That's something I try to practice a lot."
Sophomore outside hitter Cheyenne Lang added seven kills, 13 digs and one ace for the Knights.
"It's just about getting comfortable," Nunziato said. "The first day is being in a new space, big area, and just acclimating quicker."
Oakes 3, Stanley 0
A Tornado swept through the Fargodome on Thursday afternoon and it disrupted some Blue Jays.
The No. 1-seeded Oakes Tornadoes swept the Stanley Blue Jays 25-14, 25-15, 25-20.
"It feels good," said Oakes coach Shari Christenson. "We got a lot of the nervous jitters out and weren't probably connecting like we had been at the regional tournament. But like we said in (the locker room), a win is a win and we are one step closer to our goal."
Standout outside hitter Nicole Schmitz helped to lead her team at the net, much like she helped the team earn back-to-back Region 3 tournament championships. Schmitz produced 17 kills, seven digs and a pair of aces against the Blue Jays.
"Nicole is such a dynamic athlete," Christenson said. "She is just so physical and is so strong and loves the pressure. When the game is on the line, she loves to get the ball and is fearless all the time. She's just a pretty special kid."
Schmitz and the Tornadoes lost a five-set thriller to Thompson in the 2018 state championship match held in Minot.
"We've been hoping to get back here ever since the last point of last year's championship match," Schmitz said. "We've had that to drive us ... just to get back here and redeem ourselves."
While Oakes put an end to Stanley's shot at a state championship, the Blue Jays did not go down without a fight.
Stanley's 6-foot-1 Jossi Meyer and outside hitter Leevi Meyer combined to produce 13 kills and challenged the Tornadoes in the third set. Jossi Meyer also put up three blocks against Schmitz and the rest of Oakes' front line.
Junior Sadie Hansen, Oakes' four-year starter at setter, posted 25 assists. Stanley's busy back row was paced by Shayna Dazell's 27 digs.
"We know that when we are able to attack the ball that we can win and we can be successful," Stanley coach Bobbi Jo Johnson said. "We didn't have (Meyer) all through the region tournament, so this is her first game since we played districts."
Stanley moves on to Friday's 3 p.m. consolation match. Schmitz said the Tornadoes (36-3) have one goal in mind this weekend in Fargo.
"This year is different because we know what we are capable of," Schmitz said. "We're kind of doing it all for ourselves. That's what's really special about this team is that we play for each other."
Fargo Oak Grove 3, Thompson 0
There will be no repeat this time for Thompson.
The Tommies’ bid for a second consecutive state title ended in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class B high school state volleyball tournament. The Tommies dropped a 30-28, 25-19, 25-21 decision to Fargo Oak Grove.
Thompson was attempting to add to its Class B state record total of five state championships. The first four all were back-to-back state championships (1997-98 and 2004-05).
But a repeat “wasn’t the focus for us,’’ Tommies coach Lisa Strand said. “Our goal was to win the first one. That’s the disappointment, not getting that one. But when you do win state, you want to win it again. There’s a letdown.’’
The Thompson problem was the Oak Grove defense. The Grovers’ blocking at the net and scrappy back-row play limited Thompson’s offense to 30 kills and one service ace.
“That’s typical defense for us,’’ Oak Grove coach Julie Vancura said. “We tell the girls they have to get after it, to make teams earn their points. They (Tommies) score a lot down the lines. We found ways to take that away.’’
The big swing may have come in the opening set.
Thompson rallied from a 19-16 deficit to take a 24-21 lead. The Tommies served for set point three times, but couldn’t get it. Oak Grove finished on a 4-1 run, putting away the win on an Emily Stover service ace.
“That was momentum,’’ Vancura said. “It carried us through the next two sets.’’
Said Strand: “We didn’t capitalize on chances we had. That was huge, to lose the first one, especially when it was a close one. The kids have to spring back; that’s not easy when you’ve used so much energy and lost.’’
The Grovers used a 7-0 run to pull into a 16-12 lead in the second set and led by three or more the rest of the way.
Thompson was within 21-20 in the third after scoring four unanswered points. But back-to-back kills by Sydney Olson started a match-closing 4-1 Grovers spurt.
Julia Bogart had 12 kills and Jaiden Zeis 10 to pace Oak Grove. Macy Jordheim’s 11 kills led the Tommies.
“Their defense was phenomenal,’’ Strand said. “We had a tough time finding holes. When we got around blockers, they dug everything up. I don’t think we ever got into a flow on offense. They have great hitters. They had us on our heels and we never threatened them with our offense.’’