N.D. Class B state volleyball tournament: Langdon knocks off Kenmare

MINOT -- For almost four games, Langdon and Kenmare matched up power games. With a berth in the North Dakota Class B high school championship match on the line, however, Langdon went to its bunting game to advance. The Cardinals eliminated defend...

MINOT -- For almost four games, Langdon and Kenmare matched up power games.

With a berth in the North Dakota Class B high school championship match on the line, however, Langdon went to its bunting game to advance.

The Cardinals eliminated defending state champion Kenmare 25-23, 25-11, 20-25, 25-22 here Friday in the state tournament semifinals. Langdon will be going for its third state title, the last coming in 2008, at approximately 8 tonight when it meets Linton-H-M-B semifinal, a semifinal winner over Stanley on Friday.

Langdon closed off the semifinal match with three unanswered points. A McKenzie Hart kill snapped a 22-22 tie in the fourth game. With Hart going back to serve, Abbey Braaten scored on a tip for a two-point lead, then Hart scored the game-winner from the back row when she pushed a soft shot over the blockers.

"It doesn't matter how hard it's hit," Langdon coach Rich Olson said. "If it drops in, it's still a kill. The tipping game has become a strength of our team."


The tip and the push weren't shots by chance. Olson suggested that approach against the bigger Kenmare lineup.

"During a timeout near the end, we talked about having to mix our shots up," Olson said. "Kenmare made some great adjustments with their digging. And our hitters did a great job of adjusting their shots when they needed to. If the big swings aren't there, we had to make some off-speed shots."

Hart took the adjustment suggestion to heart. "I'd missed how many shots from the back row? A lot," the junior standout said. "I had to try something different. It was the first time I did that push shot all night."

Hart played the closer's role all night.

With Langdon down 23-21 in the first game, the Cardinals scored four straight. Hart had two kills, a block and another kill that forced a lift. In the second game, her block provided the game-winning point. Then she put down two of the final three in the fourth game.

"I have faith in all our players," Hart said. "But I'm an aggressive player. At the end, I want the ball."

The shorter Cardinals more than held their own at the net. Hart had 22 kills, Braaten 11 and Shannon Overby nine. Kenmare, led by Katie King's 23, had a narrow 47-45 edge in kills. But Langdon had an 11-1 edge in blocks, with Hart getting five.

"They out-passed us, especially early in the match," Kenmare coach Tim Wallstrum said. "And they served so well that they kept us out of our offense. We didn't get the big swings we normally do. They controlled the match. They hardly made any mistakes."


Langdon's defense also negated most of the Kenmare hitters, with the exception of the 5-foot-11 King. Emily Fetsch had 23 digs and Breanna Mack 22 to lead the back-row defense.

"Our girls have the ability to get over the net with their jumping," Olson said. "But when you're short like we are, you have to have the timing down to block. And the kids had it tonight. We had one of the better blocking matches we've had all year. We did a good job of slowing them down, and we made some key digs. Breanna had a good match for the second night in a row. She must have had 15 to 20 perfect passes off digs. That was huge."

As were a few change-of-pace soft shots at the end for the Cardinals.

"They pound it at you and had us back on our heels," Wallstrum said. "The tips worked great for them."

Central Cass 3, Park River/Fordville-Lankin 2: The Aggies started strong. Central Cass finished strong, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Park River/F-L 24-26, 22-25, 28-26, 27-25, 15-6 in the consolation semifinals.

Central Cass dominated at the net with its size advantage, as the Squirrels held a 63-46 edge in kills and a 15-4 advantage in blocks. A quartet of CC hitters put up big numbers -- 6-foot middle hitter Taylor Kraft had 12 kills and five blocks, 6-foot outside hitter Anna Morris had 10 kills and three blocks, 5-9 middle hitter Courtney Dixon had 10 kills and four blocks and 5-8 outside hitter Jenna Kost had a team-leading 15 kills and two blocks.

Morris and Dixon made key plays in the fifth game. Central Cass closed on a 9-1 run in which Dixon had two kills and Morris had a block and the match-winning kill.

The loss marked the fourth time this season that Park River/F-L took a loss after leading 2-0 in a best-of-five match. "So we knew things can happen even with a lead," Aggies coach Sherry Currie said. "Central Cass was picking up everything that we sent over. And at the end, they seemed to have more left in the gas tank than we did."


Kirsten Johnson's 15 kills led Park River/F-L, while Sydney Larson added 13 kills and a match-high 37 digs. Carly Myrdal had 35 assists.

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