Bemidji volleyball could not duplicate its season-opening victory at Grand Rapids, losing 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-19) against the Thunderhawks on Thursday evening at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse.
With top outside hitter Mollie Rupp sidelined due to illness, the Lumberjacks were forced to vary their offensive attack and lean more on tenacious defense to slow the Thunderhawks. Their early efforts saw Grand Rapids build a large lead in the first set, putting greater importance on plays like Jordan Pemberton’s ace on serve to start chipping away at the deficit.
Pemberton was involved on the outside as well with a big hit down the line that put another point on the board for the Jacks.
Grand Rapids’ attack proved to be too much in a 25-16 win in the opening set, and the visitors would not let up in the second. The Thunderhawks once again built a commanding lead and marched their way to a 25-15 win that left Bemidji looking up at a two-set deficit for a third consecutive match.
The Jacks started the third in better form, staying close and scrapping for points with increased grit on defense.
The hosts got their attack going as well by finding Brooklyn Saiger for a kill that close the gap to two points.
With the Grand Rapids lead growing again later in the set, Margie Anderson came up with a big block at the net that helped Bemidji pull within 21-16.
Pemberton provided one more burst of life to the Lumberjacks with a nice touch that dropped in past the defense.
Despite the improved performance from Bemidji in the third, the Thunderhawks closed out the victory with a 25-19 set win that sent the Lumberjacks to their second consecutive sweep defeat.
Bemidji fell to 4-4 heading into Saturday’s trip to the Hopkins Invitational.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens: