ELLENDALE — As the Litchville-Marion/Montpelier volleyball team prepared for the postseason, coach Ryan Nelson decided to change things up and had his team change its coverage of the floor. But in game situations, it can take a bit for the changes to kick it.
When the Rebels opened the Class B District 5 tournament Thursday in Ellendale, there was a bit of delay as the team made the adjustments in its coverage, but once they were comfortable, even a casual observer could have noted the difference.
LMM went from wide-eyed and tight looking in the first two sets of its 25-18, 25-12, 13-25, 23-25, 15-5 loss to Edgeley/Kulm, to confident and fun as the team rallied its way into a fifth set, where they ultimately dropped the deciding set.
"I knew right away the first few sets would be little interesting (with the new coverage," Nelson said. "Once we got rolling in that third set, you could see in the girls eyes that it just clicked."
The loss gives the Rebels Friday off, which they'll use to prepare for a Monday match at 4:30 p.m. with the loser of today's match between LaMoure and Pingree-Buchanan/Kensal. PBK beat BCN 25-22, 25-11, 25-14 Thursday, which sets the Bison up for a regional qualifying match Monday against the loser of today's match between Ellendale and EK.
Against E/K, LMM showed early that they'd be able to play with the opposing Rebels. The two squads opened up the match with back and forth play that was tied midway through when LMM's Tanys Ulmer tipped the ball over to make it 12-12.
After that, LMM had two straight hitting errors that started a 6-1 run for EK that made it 18-13. After trading points again, EK had two straight kills from Kyla Jensen and an ace by Heather Palmer to make it 22-15, and closed it out shortly later.
In the second set, EK landed some stellar serves for early aces and jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Though the rest of the match was largely point-for-point, LMM couldn't close the gap significantly and fell 25-12.
The third match again opened close, but after LMM tied it 5-5, they rallied behind Ulmer's services, scoring nine points off the serve, which included several kills from sophomore Rhandi Larson and a few aces by Ulmer to give LMM a 14-5 lead. LMM gave EK few chances to narrow it, getting kills from senior Heather Graalum, and later ended the set on a tip by Ulmer.
The teams again played close in the fourth set, but after LMM narrowed EK's early lead to 12-11, EK went on a 9-1 run to make it 21-12.
After the 21st point, LMM got a kill from Leah Bruse and the Rebels scored on the next three serves, which included a two-hit violation and a hit out of bounds against EK.
After a bad serve, EK momentarily got the ball back, but LMM got kills from Trosja Alber and Shannon Opdahl to narrow it to 22-19 before allowing a 23rd point from EK.
Alber then got another kill to make it 23-20, which gave Bruse the serve. With Bruse at the line, Maple Valley scored five more straight points, which inclued a net violation and center line violation on EK, an ace by Bruse, along with two misplaced kills by EK to send it to a fifth set.
In the final set, LMM struggled early, allowing EK to go on a 13-2 run to start. They scored three straight points before EK ended it with a kill by Heather Palmer and an ace by Breanna Paulson.
Ulmer led LMM with seven kills and four aces, followed by Alber with 6 kills. Bruse led the Rebels with 14 assists and Tasha Piehl had 30 digs.
Boom provided the biggest thorn for the LMM defense, providing 19 of EK's 29 kills.
Despite the loss, Nelson was pleased with what he saw from his team, especially with the comeback in the fourth set.
"They wanted that (set), it was theirs," he said. "They gave it all and came back, it was awesome to see. The potential is there. Monday's going to be interesting."
PBK 3, BCN 0
Barnes County North held its own early, but struggled in the final two sets against PBK.
The Bison got an early lead in the opening set, going up 4-2 after three straight aces by Abby Undem. Though PBK made a brief run to make it 14-7 and eventually 19-11, the Bison took advantage of more strong serving by Undem, along with hitting errors by PBK, to take a 20-19 lead.
PBK eventually scored six of the last eight points, ending the set on a kill by Amanda Beckley.
PBK started the second set with a 5-1 rally, which the Bison never recovered from. Though they kept it within five, PBK scored 10 of the last 11 points of the match, turning a 15-10 lead into a 25-11 win.
BCN started the final set with a 7-2 lead, which PBK chipped away at and later reclaimed after scoring five straight points to make it 11-9, which they later increased to 16-10. The Rebels againt got in a late groove scoring six of the last seven points to win 25-14.
No player in the match had more than six kills. Jordan Thomas and Beckley led PBK with six kills. Hanna Willson led BCN with five. Kayda Haugen led BCN with 15 assists and Undem had five aces.
BCN coach Lauren Ressler said she was pleased with her team played, especially in the first set, and was optimistic for Monday's regional qualifying game.
"This district is exciting this year because everyone is beatable on any given night," she said. "I keep talking to the girls about (playing) 25-point packages, we just need to string together those plays in a row."
Kindred 3, Maple Valley 0
The Maple Valley High School volleyball team had a tough start to its Class B District 2 tournament opener Thursday at Oak Grove High School in Fargo.
The Raiders lost 25-16, 25-15, 25-18 to defending district champion Kindred. Cassie Pautz led the Raiders with nine kills, followed by Rylee Nudell with six. Megan Kasowski led the Raiders with 12 digs and Abbie Tinjum had seven digs and eight assists.
The Raiders continue the tournament today against Richland at 4:45 p.m. The winner advances to a regional qualifier Monday.
Red River 3, Valley City 1
Valley City High School lost a home match Thursday to Red River, who beat the Hi-Liners 25-16, 25-10, 23-25, 25-10.
The two-point match boosted Red River to the No. 2 spot in the EDC standings. Despite the loss, the Hi-Liners remain in sixth place in the standings. The Hi-Liners close the regular season Tuesday at home against Fargo North.