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Bismarck Legacy stages furious comeback to top West Fargo and advance to Class A volleyball semifinals

After falling into a 2-0 hole, the Sabers clawed all the way back to top the Packers in five sets on Thursday.

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West Fargo's Olivia Soine battles at the net against Bismarck Legacy's Halle Severson during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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BISMARCK — Things were looking good for West Fargo High School early on Thursday in its Class A state quarterfinal match against Bismarck Legacy.

Volleyball, however, is a sport of runs and, and unfortunately for the East Region No. 2 seed Packers, the West No. 3 Sabers clawed back from two sets down to win 21-25, 18-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-13 and advance to Friday's semifinals at the Bismarck Event Center.

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Bismarck Legacy team members celebrate their win over West Fargo at the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Senior middle hitter Chelsa Krom — who recorded her 100th career block in the first set — also threw down the final block for Legacy to clinch match point in the fifth. The Sabers (24-11) will now face West No. 1 and two-time defending state champion Bismarck Century (33-2) in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday.

"We knew it was going to be a hard match," said Legacy head coach Jenn Astle. "West Fargo plays some really good defense and some of those rallies really extended out and got really long. I think it took us a little bit to set into our mindset where we wanted to have that play to win mentality rather than the play to lose mentality.

"So when I saw that we were going to extend it into the fourth set, I was like, 'Yep, we're ready. We're going to do this.' "

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The Packers fell into a 12-4 deficit in the opening set before going on a 10-2 run to tie it up at 14. Up 23-21 later, West Fargo scored the final two points on an ace from senior setter Olivia Soine and a Legacy attack error.

West Fargo went on to win set two on a Sabers service error to put a stranglehold on the match. Unfortunately for the Packers, it wasn't meant to be the rest of the way.

"Definitely not the result we wanted for sure," said West Fargo head coach Kelsey Titus. "We had a lot of fight and a lot of battles. Legacy came out strong. They really battled and fought really hard for every point. So we expected a battle, it just didn't come out the way we wanted it to."

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West Fargo's Riley Guscette cradles a shot against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The Packers (25-11) dropped into the consolation bracket and will play East Region No. 4 Fargo North (25-11) in a consolation semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday.

Titus, who is in her first season coaching the Packers, said she couldn't have asked for a better group in year one.

"Their work ethic and their attitude," Titus said. "They've been a lot of fun to coach. They do everything I ask them to do. They work hard and usually compete really, really hard. So it's just been a really fun group to have and it's a really new group this year too with only a few kids that were here last year. So a lot of new kids out there playing a lot of minutes and getting that experience."

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West Fargo's Alivia Peterson dives for the ball against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Two consecutive blocks clinched a thrilling third set for the Sabers before a kill from junior outside hitter Halle Severson won the fourth frame for Legacy.

Junior setter Reese Duchsherer and senior outside hitter Asiah Gross paced the Sabers with 14 kills apiece. Severson finished with 13 while Krom had 11. Senior setter Madison Colby finished with 37 assists while senior libero JoAnna Fleckenstein led in the digs department with 27. Krom finished with four blocks.

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West Fargo senior right side hitter Riley Guscette finished with 15 kills while freshman middle hitter Ellee McIntosh added 13. Sophomore outside hitter Alivia Peterson chipped in 11. Freshman libero Raina Chwialkowski had four aces, three assists and 29 digs while senior outside hitter Alli Halvorson finished with 30 digs. Halvorson and junior defensive specialist Kiara Zepeda had three aces apiece.

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West Fargo team members celebrate a point against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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West Fargo's Ellee McIntosh hammers down a kill shot past Bismarck Legacy's Reese Duchsherer during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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West Fargo's Alli Halvorson bumps a return against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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West Fargo's Olivia Soine serves up an ace against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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West Fargo's Kiara Zepeda returns a shot against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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Bismarck Legacy's Madison Colby celebrates with student fans after the Sabers win over West Fargo in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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West Fargo's Olivia Soine sets the ball against Bismarck Legacy during the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament at the Bismarck Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or rspitza@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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