MINOT-By more than a 2-to-1 margin, Thompson had the advantage in kills here Thursday.
That was as much a tribute to the Tommies' aggressive defense as it was to their hitters as Thompson won in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class B high school state volleyball tournament. The second-seeded Tommies swept Center-Stanton 25-15, 25-21, 25-10.
Carrie Nistler had 13 digs and Lauren Cunningham 12 as Thompson slowed down the attack of the Region 5-champion Wildcats.
"It was maybe a little above average,'' Thompson coach Lisa Strand said of her team's defense, which totaled 68 digs. "I think our defense overall played well. We were digging up balls; that's what we do. They had some tough saves. And we were able to cover their tips.''
That defense started at the net.
"We did a nice job stopping (Morgan Vitek),'' Strand said. "She's a good hitter. We kind of took her out of her game, and some of their other hitters, with our blocking. Even if it wasn't a block kill, we got enough (touches) to slow them down and give our back row opportunities to get to the ball.''
The Tommies jumped to a 7-3 lead in the opening set and led by four or more the rest of the way, pulling away with 5-0 and 4-0 runs.
The second set was more of a battle. Center-Stanton led as late as 18-17 and pulled into a 21-21 tie on a Teanna Hintz kill. But Thompson finished with the final four points, then scored the first five of the third set and never trailed. Thompson closed the match on a 9-1 spurt.
"We played better in the second set,'' C-S coach Janet Erhardt said. "I wish we could have done that in all three sets.''
Taylor Zak had 16 kills and Macy Jordheim 10 to pace the Tommies offense, which held a 40-18 advantage in kills. Mackenzie Hughes handed out 20 assists and Kaia Sorby 15.
Zak pounded several downhill shots with authority for points.
"Taylor was ready,'' Strand said. "She gets up off the floor so well and has a quick swing. When she's hitting well like that, everybody else wants to swing hard, too.''
Zak served notice ahead of time, making an impression in the pregame. "I wish we would have blocked better on No. 12 (Zak). She hit very well. We saw that in warmups,'' Erhardt said.
Amber Frank had seven kills to pace the Wildcats.
Center-Stanton (kills-blocks-service aces) -- Teanna Hintz 2-0-1, Karyn Haag 0-0-1, Kathryn Kraft 2-.5-0, Morgan Vitek 3-0-1 (11 digs), Ashley Frank 3-0-1 (8 assists), Amber Frank 7-1-0, Teegan Henke 1-.5-0
Thompson -- Lauren Cunningham 0-0-2 (12 digs), Kaia Sorby 0-0-3 (15 assists), Carrie Nistler 5-0-0 (13 digs), Allie Ness 5-0-0, Izzy Shirek 3-0-0, Mackenzie Hughes 1-0-1 (20 assists), Macy Jordheim 10-2.5-0, Taylor Zak 16-.5-1.