LAMOURE, N.D.—Medina-Pingree-Buchanan's Taylor Sabinash was at a loss for words Tuesday night in LaMoure.
But handing a two-time defending state volleyball champion its first loss in 62 matches would probably leave anyone speechless.
Sabinash scored a string of three straight kills in a decisive fifth set against LaMoure-Litchville-Marion, helping lift the Thunder to a 3-2 victory over the Loboes.
"Man, that was really intense. I don't even know what to say," Sabinash said. "We knew we were going to have to compete and we came out with a lot of intensity. We really brought our 'A' game tonight and it was a lot of fun."
The Loboes (36-1) entered the night with only two set losses all season and had defeated the Thunder (31-3) twice during in-season tournament play. But it was finally M-P-B's turn to shine.
The visitors tied the match at 2-2 with a 25-21 victory in set 4 and survived a flurry from all-state senior Anna Holen to start the fifth. Holen scored four of the first five points of the frame.
Holen and M-P-B senior Halle Uehran each finished with a match-high 22 kills. Sabinash ended the night with 15 kills and four blocks.
"One thing this year we've really worked on is being strong mentally and never getting down," M-P-B coach Jacie Connell said. "If we lose a set we forget about it and come into the next set as a new game. Last year we struggled with that."
Sabinash took over the middle in the fifth, slamming down back-to-back-to-back kills, and then scored a block to help the Thunder to a 10-9 advantage. Holen would find the floor twice more for kills down the stretch, but tied at 13-13 Megan Moser scored arguably two of the biggest kills of her career.
M-P-B senior setter Hannah Bohl connected with the sophomore Moser on the outside for the final two points. The latter sent the Thunder into a state of euphoria.
"On the bench we just talked about what was open and we've got to hit those spots," said Moser, who finished with 13 kills and three ace serves. "Our setter just put the balls where we needed to go, so we just hit them.
"It's a good feeling to beat (L-L-M) on their home court and make a statement."
The last loss for the Lobes came against Carrington on Sept. 20, 2016. The Loboes came into the match 60-0-1 since that loss.
"It's hard when it's your last match here (at home)," L-L-M coach Laurie Good said. "You hate to lose, but honestly it's as good a time as any. Now we can regroup and work on what we need to work on to finish the season strong.
"Hats off to M-P-B. They had our number."
Both the Loboes and the Thunder have earned first-round byes as the No. 1 seeds for their upcoming district tournaments. The Loboes will face either Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier or Barnes County North in the semifinals of the District 5 tournament Friday in Oakes
The Thunder will play either Kidder County or South Border in the semifinals of the District 6 tournament Tuesday in Napoleon.
"This is what we've worked for all season," Connell said. "To get into that fifth set with (the Loboes) and win it, and the girls did an awesome job. This is exactly how we wanted to finish the season going into tournaments."
Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 3, LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 2
MPB 25 17 21 25 15
LLM 20 25 25 21 13
MPB—Kills: Halle Uehran 22, Taylor Sabinash 15, Megan Moser 13, Lauren Moser 1, Hannah Bohl 1, Eva Reich 1. Digs: Janaya Huff 34, M. Moser 32, L. Moser 25, Uehran 20, Bohl 8, Reich 8, Sabinash 2, Gracie Bohl 1. Blocks: Sabinash 4, Uehran 3, Reich 3, L. Moser 2. Aces: M. Moser 3, G. Bohl 3, Reich 3, L. Moser 2. Aces: M. Moser 3, G. Bohl 2, Uehran 1, Reich 1. Assists: H. Bohl 48, L. Moser 2.
LLM—Aces: Kindra Hamlin 3, Jackie Meiklejohn 2, Ana Mart 2, Anna Holen 1, Rain Aberle 1. Kills: A. Holen 22, Hamlin 9, Ellie Holen 8, Ryleigh Podoll 2. Blocks: Alyssa Ragan 5, Podoll 4, A. Holen 4, E. Holen 1, Hamlin 1, Meiklejohn 1. Assists: Meiklejohn 38. Digs: Hamlin 16, E. Holen 14, A. Holen 11, Aberle 11, Meiklejohn 7, Mart 6.
Records: Medina-PB 31-3; LaMoure-LM 36-1.
District 5 volleyball tournament
Thursday's opening round
No. 4 Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier vs. No. 5 Barnes County North, 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 Carrington vs. No. 7 Midkota, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Oakes vs. No. 6 Ellendale, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 LaMoure-LM first-round bye
District 6 volleyball tournament
Monday's opening round
No. 4 Kidder County vs. No. 5 South Border, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Napoleon-GS vs. No. 6 Strasburg-Zeeland, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Medina-PB first-round bye.
No. 2 Linton-HMB first-round bye.