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Jays top Demons to clinch state berth

Jamestown's Megan Gaffaney sets the ball for teammate Courtney Peterson during Thursday's quarterfinals at the West Region Volleyball Tournament in Mandan. John M. Steiner / The Sun

It wasn't always pretty, but tournament time isn't about earning style points.

Top-seeded Jamestown had a hog-wrestle on its hands on Thursday with Bismarck, but reached the ultimate goal, a berth in the state Class A volleyball tournament.

Jamestown outlasted fifth-seeded and upset-minded Bismarck in four sets in the semifinals of the West Region volleyball tournament at Mandan High School. Scores were 25-17, 25-27, 25-23, 25-21 in what Jamestown coach Sara Hegerle termed an absolute battle.

"After a match like that you feel like a survivor. ... That was two teams getting on the court and battling it out," Hegerle said.

The fourth and final game was filled with errors. Fourteen points were scored by miscues of some sort — hitting errors, violations or service errors — as the teams grappled to a 10-10 standoff.

Jamestown got back on track first, taking off on an 8-2 run to forge an 18-12 lead as Alyssa Ukestad drilled three kills.

Bismarck never fully rebounded from that blitz. The Demons cut the deficit to 19-17 on an ace by Alie Glasser and made it 20-19 on kills by Olivia Dickerson and Lexus Mosbrucker, but then Jamestown took over.

The Blue Jays scored five of the final seven points, putting the match away via kills by McKayla Kurtz and Megan Gaffaney and a series of BHS mistakes— two service errors and four hitting errors.

Jamestown senior McKayla Kurtz said she wasn't surprised with Bismarck's tenacity.

"We knew we were going to have to fight hard. ... I don't think they played to their potential the first two times we played them. They really played to their potential in this match," Kurtz said.

Hegerle said Bismarck's strong showing had nothing to do with overconfidence on the Blue Jays' part.

"We never overlook Bismarck because they have so many weapons. ... And you saw their defense in the third and fourth sets," Hegerle sid.

Hegerle said there were ups and downs in the match, but she never felt the Blue Jays were in deep water.

"There were moments we had some trouble, but I wouldn't say we were struggling," she said.

The Blue Jay offense was built on balance. Kurtz, a 5-foot-6 senior, finished with 14 kills to lead a four-pronged attack. Senior setter Megan Gaffaney followed with 13, and Ukestad and Courtney Peterson added 12 apiece.

Senior Hannah Schiele stood out on the back row with 33 digs.

Senior Lexi Mosbrucker was credited with 17 kills for BHS, and Lauryn Andre added 11.

For Kurtz, Friday's win with the accompanying state berth is one of her season's goals realized.

"I'm so excited," she said. "... Now we've got to get ready for tomorrow's big (regional title) match. We're so excited for that match."

Jamestown will meet Century today at 4 p.m. for the West Region championship. The two teams split during the regular season, each winning at home. Bismarck drops into the consolation bracket. The Demons play Minot at noon today in a state qualifier.

Jamestown is headed for its seventh state tournament. The Blue Jays placed seventh in the state last season.

Jamestown 3, Bismarck 1

Bismarck 17 27 23 21

Jamestown 25 25 25 25

Bismarck — Kills: Lexus Mosbrucker 17, Lauryn Andre 11, Lexi Heisler 6. Blocks: Olivia Dickerson 2, Heisler 2. Assists: Mady Mosolf 16, Hannah Steckler 15. Digs: Alie Glasser 21, Andre 21, Mosolf 15, Jenna Kivisto 12, Steckler 11. Aces: Mosbrucker 2, Heisler 1, Steckler 1, Glasser 1.

Jamestown — Kills: McKayla Kurtz 14, Megan Gaffaney 13, Alyssa Ukestad 12, Courtney Peterson 12, Abby Kallenbach 5, Kameron Selvig 1. Blocks: Gaffaney 3.5, Jordan Paulson 1.5, Kallenbach 1. Assists: Gaffaney 34, Selvig 3. Digs: Hannah Schiele 33, Ukestad 15, Olivia Nihill 14. Aces: Gaffaney 3, Ukestad 3, Nihill 1, Paulson 1.

Records: Jamestown 34-4; Bismarck 23-14.