A complete team effort bolstered by the return of outside hitter Mollie Rupp helped Bemidji volleyball to a sweep 3-0 victory over Pine River-Backus (25-18, 25-22, 25-18) on Tuesday evening at the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse.
The three-set win was a welcome halt to a recent stretch of six losses in seven matches for the Lumberjacks, who opened the night with a 4-0 lead that would never be relinquished in the first set. Part of the balanced look in attack was provided by the hitting of Aurora Frank, who came up with impactful swings early and late in the set.
Rupp’s return to the Bemidji lineup after missing five matches due to illness was a welcome development, as she displayed her trademark power on the outside early and often.
The Jacks responded to several gritty defensive rallies by the Tigers by taking one of their own at a key stage in the first set, finishing the point with a clever shot by setter Margie Anderson.
After Bemidji rolled to a 25-18 win in the first, the second set was played almost completely within a four-point window between the two teams. The Jacks got an extra lift from Tori Bahr, who served and defended effectively in an extended run on the floor.
The defense of the Lumberjacks increased its activity in the second as well, with Frank providing a strong block from the middle.
Late points in the set proved to be decisively in Bemidji’s favor on the way to a 25-22 win, as Anderson and Rupp both notched significant points during the push.
The Jacks shrugged off an early deficit in the third to roar out to a sizable lead, getting attacking and defensive contributions from Rupp to grow the advantage.
Errors by the Tigers grew in frequency in the third and were punished with regularity by Bemidji on shots like Anna Frenzel’s blasted kill from the middle after a misplayed pass.
The Lumberjacks ultimately finished with a flourish to conclude a 25-18 win in the third.
Bemidji improves to 6-7 heading into another section match with Moorhead–this time on the road–on Thursday at 6pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens: