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Oakes tops Langdon-E-M in state semis

Sadie Hansen, center, and Marisa Garza of Oakes block against Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich during their semifinal match of the North Dakota Volleyball Tournament on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Minot.

MINOT—The season series went to Langdon-Edmore-Munich.

The biggest win went to Oakes.

After losing to the Cardinals both times they met during the regular season, Oakes downed L-E-M 17-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-19 here Friday in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B high school volleyball tournament.

"We knew the feeling of losing to them before,'' Tornadoes hitter Nicole Schmitz said. "We didn't want that feeling again. It made us work harder.

"This feeling is unbelievable.''

Oakes plays Thompson for the state title at 7 p.m. Saturday. Langdon-E-M meets Northern Cass for third place at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Balance may have been the big difference compared to the teams' regular-season meetings.

"Those were both very close matches,'' L-E-M coach Rich Olson said. "They had a lot of girls who really stepped up tonight. Schmitz was outstanding. But they had other kids. Their rightside hitters hurt us. Their tipping and offspeed stuff hurt us. And they got us out of system with their serving.''

Oakes has never played in the state volleyball final. The Tornadoes are making their first state tournament appearance since 2005. The latter may have contributed to their slow start.

"We got ahold of our nerves,'' Oakes coach Shari Christenson said. "This is the first time to state for these girls. We expected nerves at some point. And they did show up in the first set. Then we settled down.

"We didn't make any technical changes. We just had to play our game.''

The Cardinals finished strong in the first set, an 8-4 run to pull away.

The Tornadoes did the same in the second and third sets. The Tornadoes finished the second on a 6-1 run and the third on an 8-4 run.

Christensen said serve receiving improved after the first set. "So we put them on their heels. We were on our heels in the first set,'' she said. "And they were really keying on Nicole, putting up blocks. Once we got some (balanced) hitting, they had to honor our other hitters.''

Schmitz had 18 kills and Marisa Garza 14 to lead the Tornadoes, who had six players with five or more kills. Callie Ronningen with 24 kills and Lexi Olson with 10 accounted for all but 14 of the L-E-M kills.

The Cardinals led 14-8 in the fourth set. But Oakes rattled off seven unanswered points and had two more 4-0 runs, the last to close out the match.

"When we were down two sets, we just wanted to get to a fifth set,'' Olson said. "We felt momentum would be on our side then. But three big runs at the end of the fourth, that was too much to overcome.''

Oakes 17-25-25-25,

Langdon-Edm.-Mun. 25-16-19-19

Oakes (kills-blocks-service aces) -- Claire Wagner 0-0-1 (19 digs), Shayla Novak 5-.5-0, Nicole Schmitz 18-0-0 (10 digs), Abigail Cox 8-2.5-1, Marisa Garza 14-1.5-1, Jaida Seyer 5-0-1, Sadie Hansen 5-.5-0 (42 assists, 15 digs).

Langdon-Edmore-Munich -- Lexi Olson 10-2-1 (13 digs), Madi Pritchard 3-0-0 (36 assists, 13 digs), Kaitlynn Scherr 1-0-0 (27 digs), Morgan Freije 6-3-0, Callie Ronningen 24-1-1 (28 digs), Brooke Bakke 1-0-1, Kaylee Lowery 3-0-0.

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