HAZELTON, N.D.—No North Dakota high school volleyball team has ever won three state championships in a row. LaMoure-Litchville-Marion could be the first.
Senior standout outside hitter Anna Holen helped will the Loboes to a third consecutive Class B Region 3 volleyball championship here Thursday, defeating Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 25-22, 25-13, 27-29, 25-17.
The Class B state tournament begins next Thursday in Fargo, where the Loboes will be in search of the state three-peat. The seeding for the tournament will be announced today.
"We started our season wanting to get back to state," Holen said. "We knew our region was the toughest in the state, and M-P-B gave us a heckuva run.
"They're an amazing team and to come out on top over them is huge."
Holen and L-L-M senior standout setter Jackie Meiklejohn were named the co-senior athletes of the year in the region. The Loboes' head coach Laurie Good was named the region's top coach.
"It's crazy. It's just hard to believe," Good said. "These girls just fought, they battled and just never gave up."
The Loboes led by as many as five points in the first set, before Holen slammed a kill to the floor and Meiklejohn ended it with an ace, 25-22.
Holen took over set 2 from the start, sending three kills and two aces over the net helping the Loboes storm to a 12-3 lead in a 25-13 win. Holen finished the night with 20 kills and six aces, while Meiklejohn tossed up 36 assists.
The Loboes' momentum had the Thunder out of system, and four attacking errors and a service error by M-P-B contributed to the early run. M-P-B also made three net violations in the second.
"Our nerves just got to us," M-P-B coach Jacie Connell said. "We weren't on the top of our game and we didn't play the way we knew we could. We've never been in a game like this before and it showed tonight."
M-P-B's Halle Uehran finally ended a wild third set 29-27 in favor of the Thunder with back-to-back kills. Uehran finished with 21 kills, while Taylor Sabinash added 19.
But the Loboes ran away in the fourth, receiving a pair of late kills from Ellie Holen.
"I knew that M-P-B was going to come in fighting hard, and boy they did," Good said. "They came back in set 3 and showed us they were here to play too."
It's the fourth region title in the past five years for the Loboes, and all four have come against a different opponent. The Loboes have defeated Linton-HMB (2013), South Border (2015), Carrington (2016) and now the Thunder—dating back to when Anna Holen and Meiklejohn were eighth-graders.
Region 3 Volleyball Tournament
LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 3, Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 1
MPB 22 13 29 17
LLM 25 25 27 25
MPB—Kills: Taylor Sabinash 21, Halle Uehran 19, Megan Moser 9. Digs: Moser 23, Janaya Huff 23, Uehran 19, Lauren Moser 13. Blocks: Uehran 2. Aces: Gracie Bohl 1, L. Moser 1, Uehran 1. Assists: Bohl 39.
LLM—Aces: Anna Holen 6, Allie Hebl 3, Ellie Holen 1, Kindra Hamlin 1, Jackie Meiklejohn 1. Kills: Holen 20, Ellie Holen 11. Ryleigh Podoll 3. Blocks: E. Holen 6, Alyssa Ragan 6, Podoll 5. Assists: Meiklejohn 36. Digs: Kindra Hamlin 18, Ana Mart 12, E. Holen 10, A. Holen 8. Meiklejohn 6.
Records: LLM 41-1. MPB 35-4.
Co-Senior Athletes of the Year: Anna Holen, L-L-M. Jackie Meiklejohn, L-L-M.
Coach of the Year: Laurie Good, L-L-M.
Oakes 3, Carrington 2
Carr. 18 25 20 25 13
Oakes 25 18 25 20 15
Records: Oakes 26-10. Carrington 27-11.