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Conference Champs: Jays win region with Bismarck sweep

The Blue Jay bench clears to celebrate a point scored Monday in high school volleyball action against Bismarck. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Alyssa Ukestad's bump kill in the final set Monday at Jerry Meyer Arena exemplified why the Blue Jays are so dang tough.

The senior's all-out defensive slide saved a ball from hitting the court and put Jamestown out front 20-17 in the final frame against visiting Bismarck High in one fell swoop.

The Blue Jays swept the Demons in three sets on senior night, winning the school's third West Region regular season conference championship in volleyball.

"It's like the best feeling in the world," said Ukestad, who played her final home match with fellow seniors McKayla Kurtz, Hannah Schiele, Jordan Paulson, Olivia Nihill and Megan Gaffaney. "To end it with a big win as conference champs on our home court, on the last night here, it's just awesome."

The Blue Jays were on point against Bismarck. They recorded nine blocks, 77 digs and hit .243 as a team en route to winning 25-16, 25-21, 25-20.

Ukestad posted 19 digs and seven kills. Schiele, the Jays' standout libero, turned up 22 digs and Gaffaney recorded 2.5 blocks.

"Our defense was so good," Jamestown coach Sara Hegerle said. "Our kids are able to hit as much as they do because our defense really does a good job.

"There were balls that we thought were going to be down but, sure enough, somebody's slinging their body out to get it. Those are fun, inspiring plays and when our kids do that you know good things are going to happen."

Paulson sent two aces to the floor during an early 6-0 Jamestown run in the first set. Gaffaney later came up with big blocks over the Demons' Lexus Mosbrucker and Olivia Dickerson to help the Jays roll by nine.

Mosbrucker led Bismarck with 10 kills and four ace serves.

Gaffaney found junior middle Courtney Peterson for one of her 10 kills to break up a 7-7 tie in the second. Three straight attacking errors by the Demons followed, helping Jamestown lead by as many as seven before putting the set away.

Tied at 17-all in the third, a string of three late kills—including Ukestad's amazingly athletic back-row score—made the difference.

The Jays entered the night tied with Bismarck Century at 16-1 in the conference standings. But Jamestown owned the tiebreaker over the Patriots in head-to-head set victories, meaning all Jamestown had to do to claim the title in its final conference match was to beat Bismarck.

Century beat St. Mary's 3-1 on Monday. It's the first conference championship in volleyball for Jamestown since 2014, when the Blue Jays and the Patriots shared the title at 15-1.

The Blue Jays, however, have never won the West Region volleyball tournament, which is scheduled Nov. 9-11 in Mandan.

"We just have to play the way we know we can play," Hegerle said. "We really have to do it as a team. That's the only way we're going to be successful, is if everyone buys into the fact that everyone's important.

"If they all buy into it and all play together, anything is possible."

Jamestown 3, Bismarck 0

BIS 16 21 20

JAM 25 25 25

Bismarck—Aces: Lexus Mosbrucker 4, Lauryn Andrew 1, Hannah Steckler 1, Courtney Hawkinson 1. Kills: Mosbrucker 10, Andre 6, Kiaya Schwab 3, Hawkinson 2, Alexis Heisler 2, BreAnn Sullivan 1, Madsen Mosolf 1, Olivia Dickerson 1. Assists: Mosolf 12, Steckler 11, Jenna Kivisto 2. Digs: Kivisto 23, Andre 22, Sullivan 9, Mosolf 9, Steckerl 8, Mosbrucker 4, Heisler 3, Hawkinson 1, Dickerson 1, Schwab 1. Blocks: Heisler 2.5, Schwab 2.

Jamestown—Aces: Jordan Paulson 2, Megan Gaffaney 2, Alyssa Ukestad 1. Kills: McKayla Kurtz 10, Courtney Peterson 10, Gaffaney 8, Ukestad 7, Paulson 5, Abby Kallenbach 2. Blocks: Gaffaney 2.5, Peterson 1.5, Kameron Selvig 1.5, Kurtz 1, Kallenbach 1, Ukestad 1, Paulson .5. Assists: Gaffaney 22, Selvig 3, Peterson 1, Paulson 1, Hannah Schiele 1. Digs: Schiele 21, Ukestad 19, Olivia Nihill 16, Gaffaney 10, Peterson 5, Kurtz 4, Selvig 1, Kallenbach 1.

Records: Jamestown 33-4, 17-1 West Region. Bismarck 23-14, 10-8 West Region.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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