HARRIS - Despite relying heavily on three sophomores, the North Dickinson Nordics earned a fourth straight trip to the Class D regional volleyball tournament by winning the district title here Saturday.
The Nordics breezed to a pair of opening victories, then won the final four points of the third match to complete the 3-0 sweep. North Dickinson, which plays Superior Central Tuesday at Kingsford, won 25-21, 25-13 and 25-21. The Nordics used a 12-point run to take charge early in the first game and used a 9-1 burst midway through the second game, then prevailed in a much tighter third set in which the lead exchanged hands four times and the score was tied 11 times.
"It had to be done. We had opportunities and got the points when we needed to," said sophomore Lexi Steele, who had 11 kills.
Dennis Grall photo
Aleesa Madalinski of Bark River-Harris hits the shot as North Dickinson's Chelsey Stroud watches Saturday at the Class D district championship at Harris.
Sophomore Miranda Jacobson, who had a strong all-around game that was particularly impressive at the net, said "we played great as a team. We couldn't have done it if everyone wasn't fired up. We couldn't have done it without our coach (Sandy Haustein). She is awesome."
Jacobson had three spikes and blocked a BR-H shot to account for the final four points, with the Nordics (17-6) quickly gathering for a quick celebration after beating the Broncos (12-8) for the third time this season.
"Our passing was really good and our setting was really good, too," said Jacobson, who had 11 kills and four blocks. "When you get up and block it is like an adrenalin rush. When you get that block (in the stretch run), what a rush."
Haustein said the key to victory was the team's serving, with sophomore Chelsey Stroud banging home six of her seven aces in the take-charge opening game outburst. Stroud had a total of 21 service points and added seven kills.
"She has been serving at 90 percent all year and leads the team in aces," said Haustein.
Haustein said Steele's hitting has been consistent. "She kept the ball in play."
Haustein said Jacobson "is playing like a senior right now."
BR-H coach John Jorasz said Jacobson did too many things well. "She is one of their go-to's. She was on at the net. We did the best we could to get a blocker up there (by Jacobson) but when we failed to get a blocker up there she had free rein and she was able to see the court real well."
With the season on the line midway through the third set, BR-H reeled off seven straight points behind the serving of Kortney Jenshak for a 14-12 lead. North Dickinson's 12-7 lead was the widest margin of the final set, with no more than two points otherwise separating the teams in that finale.
"To come back and win was amazing," said Jacobson.
"We had big jumps in the first two games, then we let them climb back," said Haustein. "The third game we were a little lackadaisical and overconfident and we didn't move as well."
Haustein said another key was good ball movement. "You need to get passes in the 10-foot area so we can run our offense better," she said, agreeing the Nordics were the more aggressive team throughout the match.
"I told them to play aggressive and keep the momentum on your side," she said.
Jorasz said the Broncos let the earlier losses to the Nordics contribute to a negative vibe to open the district finale. "We were not really focused at the start," he said. After falling behind 15-5 in the opener, the Broncos ran off four points as Mariah St. John served, then fell back 22-13 before cutting the deficit to 23-19. "We started to wake up and started hitting the ball and we started to play volleyball," he said. "It took the girls too long in the first set to get in the groove."
The second set was close until the Nordics used that 9-1 flurry to regain control, with Jacobson contributing three straight points in the breakout.
Jorasz was impressed with the North Dickinson sophomores, noting Hausten "has a good team to build off for next year. It is nice to be able to pull sophomores up like they are."
Senior Megan Derusha, who did not seem hampered by an ankle sprain, had eight assists, three kills and a block for the Broncos. Senior Sarah Madalinski had four kills and four assists and Jenshak, a junior, had two assists, an ace and a kill.