FARGO -- Aside from a minor hiccup in the third set, the Central Cass volleyball team looked every bit a state title contender on Friday.

And the Squirrels' performance has given them a chance to finish as state champions for the first time almost a decade.

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Seniors Anna Morris and Courtney Dixon each had 15 kills to lead Central Cass to a 25-19, 25-18, 13-25, 25-19 victory against Linton/H-M-B in the North Dakota Class B state tournament semifinals at the Fargodome.

"The third set was trying for us," Morris said. "We were really not playing our game. It was kind of a bad one. But we pulled it together."

The Squirrels were again balanced, poised and ready for whatever the Lions threw at them.

And Linton/H-M-B had plenty of firepower.

Senior Kayln Schneider was at times unstoppable, ending Central Cass' stranglehold on momentum several times with powerful kills and tips. She finished with 17 kills.

Robin Weber added 10 kills for the Lions.

However, the Squirrels spread the ball around to its Big Three of Morris, Dixon and 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker Faith Dooley.

The trio combined for 41 of the team's 53 kills.

"We don't have one or two power hitters, we have six," Morris said. "We don't focus on one player. Having six good hitters on the team is an advantage."

Big game experience has likely played a role in Central Cass' run to the title game. Several of the players were key members of the Squirrels' basketball team that reached the Class B title game each of the last two seasons.

But losses in each of those games have Squirrels hungry for a championship.

Central Cass will face Stanley at 6 p.m. in the title match.

"We are confident that we can do well," Morris said. "We don't want second place for a third time."

State Class B volleyball

Consolation semifinals

Hatton-Northwood 3, Grant County 1

Hatton-Northwood 25 18 25 25

Grant County 20 25 21 22

Hatton-Northwood (kills-block-aces): Hedland 8-1-0, Schwartz 3-0-1 (40 assists), A. Pladson 0-0-0 (28 digs), Thompson 1-1-1, Skovlund 6-1-2, Lloyd 1-1-1, Iverson 21-2-4, Johnson 6-4-2.

Grant County: Tatro 2-0-0, Mutschelknaus 7-0-0, Lince 10-0-0 (16 digs), S. Bentz 8-4-0, Levorsen 6-0-0, A. Bentz 17-1-0, Seidler 3-0-1 (14 assists), Leithold 3-0-1.

Kenmare 3, Beulah 1

Kenmare 20 25 25 25

Beulah 25 20 23 18

Kenmare (kills-blocks-aces): Munson 2-1-1 (40 assists), Goettle 0-0-0, Wallstrum 0-0-0, Hass 5-0-0, Crider 0-0-5, Barnhart 15-1-1, H. Nelson 19-0-0 (27 digs), K. Nelson 7-0-3.

Beulah: Lorenz 0-0-0 (26 digs), Hausauer 0-0-0, Schmidt 5-0-3, Grad 1-2-0 (23 assists), Battest 15-1-1, Iverson 6-5-0, Zimmerman 2-1-1, Link 9-2-0.

Semifinals

Central Cass 3, Linton-HMB 1

Linton-HMB 19 18 25 19

Central Cass 25 25 13 25

Linton-HMB (kills-blocks-aces): T. Gerving 0-0-0, W. Gerving 0-0-2 (31 assists), Gross 0-0-0 (36 digs), Knox 0-0-1, Larson 3-1-0, Weber 10-1-3, Schneider 17-2-2, Flyberg 8-0-0, Beck 2-2-0, Haak 1-0-0.

Central Cass: Slemmons 5-0-0, Weber 0-0-0 (32 digs), Ruliffson 1-1-1, Wieland 0-0-0, Breske 3-1-0, Dixon 15-0-1, Morris 15-3-0, Dooley 11-4-1, Voss 3-0-0 (32 assists).

Hotzler is a sports writer for The Forum