Early in the season, there has been a lot of learning on the fly for a young Century volleyball team.
“We’re so young, so we’ve had a lot of learning experiences and every time we step on the court is something new,” Patriots coach Jamie Zastoupil said.
Zastoupil’s youthful squad passed a big test on Tuesday night, sweeping cross-town rival Bismarck High 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 at the Linette Olson gym to remain unbeaten in West Region play.
“This game has such a good tradition, the Bismarck-Century game. Seeing a lot of past players in the crowd and past coaches in the crowd – it’s really fun and it’s such a tradition, but it puts a lot of pressure on the kids and I’m really pleased with the way our girls responded,” Zasoupil said. “I’m pleased with how our seniors led but I’m pleased with how our young ones really stepped up for the first time in this atmosphere.”
The Patriots made all the plays they needed down the stretch in all three close games to fend off the Demons.
Century built a 21-16 lead in the opener, only to watch BHS reel off six straight points and take a 22-21 advantage before the Patriots closed it out with a 4-0 run with big kills from Ella Fridley and Hattie Fitterer.
In the second game, Century opened up a 17-13 lead before BHS rallied to tie it at up at 19-19. A 6-2 closing run by the Patriots gave them a 2-0 lead.
Bismarck led 13-11 in the third but Century came back with a 9-2 run, grabbing a 20-15 lead and fending off a late Demons charge for a 25-22 win and the sweep.
“Nobody was afraid to swing and we’re getting better about seeing what’s open on the other side,” Zastoupil saild. “That’s obviously a big goal for us, to try to find those open areas and they’re getting better about it. But Bismarck High puts up a huge block and that’s frustrating. For our girls to be so young and see, try and get around it is hard to teach but they’re getting better at it and they’re starting to pick apart some of those little things.”
“It’s the beginning of the season, we’re just in shape, we’re getting our bearings,” Bismarck assistant coach Laura Schmidt said. “Silly little mistakes – we were where we needed to be, it was just finishing out the play.
“We had times in our rotation when we capitalized and so did they, and it was just us needing to finish out those plays. Unfortunately, we just didn’t do that the entire night.”
Lauren Ware led Century (9-3, 5-0 West Region) with 14 kills and added six digs and 1.5 blocks. Julia Fitterer had nine kills and 15 digs. Fridley added eight kills and Hattie Fitterer totaled six kills.
The Patriots’ big hitters kept the Demons off balance.
“They have very strong hitters and they like to move the ball quickly and sometimes our blockers can’t figure out where they’re going,” Schmidt said.
Mya Klein had a team-high 20 assists, Chloe Markovic had 17 digs, Megan Klein 2.5 blocks and Kaia Lill three aces for Century, which had some big serving runs in the match.
“It’s always a goal for us to not have errors on that end but to serve aggressively,” Zastoupil said.
Century hosts Minot on Thursday while Bismarck is off until Saturday, when the Demons host Watford City.