HIGHLIGHTS: Jacks Narrowly Toppled By Cardinals In Five-Set Classic

Bemidji volleyball pulled within a point of claiming victory before Alexandria scored the final four tallies of the night to snatch a 3-2 victory (19-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-17, 16-14) in a thrilling season-opening match Thursday evening at Alexandria High School.

The Lumberjacks started on the front foot in the first set by forcing an early Alex timeout following Jordan Pemberton’s kill that opened up a 6-3 lead.

Bemidji’s early lead held up for much of the first set and was extended by the big hitting of Elizabeth Oster up front.

The good start helped the Lumberjacks round off an eventual 25-19 win in the opening game.

Alexandria countered quickly in the second set by rocketing to a 5-0 lead and holding off numerous attempts by the Jacks to draw level. Bemidji’s last glimmer of hope came late in the set when Sammy Nistler fired an ace after a block by Oster.

The Cardinals would never trail on their way to securing a 25-20 win in the second.

Initiative returned to the Lumberjacks early in the third game after a relatively close start. Newcomer Mollie Rupp was increasingly making an impact in attack and deposited her seventh kill to help the Jacks open an 11-7 lead.

Bemidji surged away with a dominant stretch that eventually extended the lead to 24-12 after Oster tallied another kill and Bolte dropped in an ace on serve.

Alexandria strung together several late points before the Jacks wrapped up a 25-17 victory to move ahead 2-1 in the match.

The hosts again responded to a defeat with a quick start in the subsequent game, roaring to a 6-1 advantage that Bemidji again could never battle back from. Oster continued to make her mark, dropping consecutive kills that drew the Lumberjacks within four.

One more push from the Cardinals took them to a 25-17 win in the fourth, setting up a dramatic fifth set to decide the match.

A kill and ace from Rupp helped Bemidji take an early advantage, but Alexandria piled up five straight points for a 7-4 lead. Bolte ended the run with a much-needed kill for the visitors.

The Bemidji senior captain was then at the center of a momentum-turning moment when her diving dig narrowly kept the ball of the ground and led to a point.

Down 9-5 prior to the point, the Lumberjacks proceeded to rip off a 9-3 run that was fueled by several influential plays from Rupp.

Bemidji’s first match point was a scrappy, desperately contested point that ended in a sudden lift call on Rupp. Back on serve with senior Charlotte Lempka, the Cardinals tied the match before surging on to claim the victory thanks to a Lempka block.

Oster and Rupp each posted a team-best 15 kills, while Bolte added 12. Margie Anderson directed the attack from the setter spot with 44 assists.

The Lumberjacks will pause their competitive schedule for almost two weeks before visiting Park Rapids on Tuesday, Sep. 6 for a 7:30pm match.

Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens: