The volleyball gods were smiling on the four-time defending state champion Century Patriots in their West Region matchup Tuesday against Bismarck Legacy.
The Patriots served up eight aces against the Sabers, with four of those smacking the tape and rolling to empty spots on the Legacy side of the net. That, plus solid play by junior outside hitter Julia Fitterer, helped the Patriots beat the Sabers 25-18, 25-16, 25-16 for their first region win of the year.
“I thought the girls stepped up and competed, even though it wasn’t always pretty,” Century coach Jamie Zastoupil said. “Even if it was ugly, they competed and that was nice to see.”
Zastoupil said that wasn’t the case last week when the Patriots – undefeated in the region while winning a state title last year – dropped their regional opener to Bismarck.
“We really didn’t compete and let Bismarck take control of that game. Tonight, we set the pace of the game,” Zastoupil said.
Fitterer led the way with 14 kills, 10 digs and an ace that ended game two. That game was similar to games one and three from Legacy’s standpoint. They played well early, but faltered midway through the sets before falling off the pace.
“In the middle of the match we would float away a little bit and stack some errors and it’s kind of hard to recover from that,” Legacy coach Jennifer Astle said. “It’s such a momentum game. We said that in the middle of the match we need to stay focused.”
That was most apparent in the opening game. Century led just 11-7 when Kaia Lill served eight straight points that forced Legacy to burn two timeouts. The run ended when Lill’s kill went wide, leaving the Patriots up 19-8.
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Legacy junior setter Camaryn Beasley responded with a string of five straight points to pull the Sabers within 19-14. It was all Century from there. Beasley finished with three aces and a game-high 29 assists to go with nine digs.
Legacy took an 11-10 lead in game two on one of Ashton Sagaser’s team-high 12 kills. The senior outside hitter also had eight digs.
The Patriots slowly pulled away and Astle used a timeout down 16-11 and 20-14.
The third game was more of the same. The Sabers trailed 13-12 before Century reeled off five of the next six points and 12 of the next 16. The match ended on a service error by the Sabers .
Zastoupil said her team served more aggressively and was better at the net in its first win without injured University of Arizona-bound Lauren Ware.
Hailey Fletcher had 10 kills and Hattie Fitterer nine kills for the Patriots. Lill had 24 assists and senior libero Chloe Markovic had 20 digs, including two sprawling dives in one rally that ended with a Julia Fitterer backward over-the-head tip for a point.
“For us, it’s just figuring things out,” Zastoupil said. “It’s figuring out our roles and making sure everyone has a role and buys into it.”
Macee Van Vleet and Mac Boone had 13 kills apiece for the Sabers, who are still looking for their first region win.