Bemidji volleyball put together sizable runs in all three sets on the way to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-21) sweep of Brainerd on Tuesday evening in Brainerd–the first win for the Lumberjacks against the Warriors in four years.
The Lumberjacks rarely trailed all evening, firing out to a 7-1 lead in the first set that was fueled by good play from middle hitter Elizabeth Oster in her first game back from a brief injury.
Oster’s strong start up the middle opened up opportunities on the outside, which Beth Bolte took advantage of for a big hit later in the first.
Bemidji’s lead was cut to 14-13 before the Lumberjacks piled up six consecutive points–including through a solo block in the middle by Oster after a Brainerd timeout.
The junior fittingly had a big say in the final point of the set, putting down a kill to halt a late run by Brainerd and wrap up a 25-22 victory.
Set two started even through the first several points for both teams, but Oster continued her strong play with another big swing in the middle.
The Warriors held one of their only leads of the night at 9-7 later in the second, but Bemidji turned the set around with a massive 13-1 run that featured points in a variety of styles. The serving of Margie Anderson helped contribute to eight consecutive points for the Lumberjacks with an ace added by the freshman setter along the way.
The Lumberjacks went from strength to strength later in the run when a kill from Kate Hildenbrand was immediately followed by an ace dropped in by Bolte.
Allie Lillquist blasted in the final point of the set with a kill that secured a relatively dominant 25-17 victory to go up 2-0 in the match.
Bemidji looked like it might run away with the third early, pouring on six straight points that were capped by yet another Bolte ace that was part of her team-best tally of six.
Things tightened up quickly when Brainerd pulled back even at 8-8, but the Lumberjacks started piecing another run together when Anderson popped up with a point on a loose pass to the net by the Warriors.
Perhaps the point of the night came midway through the second set. Bemidji’s Kennedy Smith stuck out a foot to make a kick dig on a big hit from the Warriors, keeping the point alive for Lillquist to eventually win for the Lumberjacks moments later.
Lillquist again had the final say in finishing off the set, rounding off the three-set sweep by pummeling another kill down the line to finish out a 25-21 score in the third.
Bolte finished with 10 kills, while Oster had nine kills and four blocks and Lillquist provided six kills.
The Lumberjacks move back to .500 at 8-8 overall heading into a trip to St. Michael-Albertville on Friday and Saturday for a tournament.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Alicia Kriens: