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'No disappointment': Linton/HMB goes five with Northern Cass in title game

Linton/HMB battled Northern Cass for a shot at its third-straight state volleyball title.

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The Linton-HMB bench reacts to a point against Northern Cass during the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament championship game at the Bismarck Events Center on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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BISMARCK — Following the 2022 Class B State Championship volleyball match, there was only pride in Jaime Richter's eyes.

"We knew we weren't going to beat this team right away," Richter, the head coach of the Linton/HMB volleyball team said. "Going into this match I wanted it to be in five.

"I just wish it had been the other way around," she added with a laugh.

Northern Cass stopped Linton/HMB from earning its third-straight state title with an epic 25-16, 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-10 state championship win over the second-seeded Lions Saturday evening at the Bismarck Events Center.

"I am so proud of our girls," Richter said. "I look at every girl on their side of the court and I remember them all except for two.

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"Look at our team. If I told you a year ago that we would be playing in the championship in five sets, you would be tickled pink. I am just so proud of us for getting to the end and how much they have accomplished this year and how hard they fought. I am speechless."

Richter and the squad had to battle for every game they won this year. Northern Cass beat the Lions early on in the year while Region 3 rivals LaMoure/Litchville-Marion, Oakes and Medina/Pingree-Buchanan, took the two-time state champs to at least four sets.

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In the Region 3 championship, the Lions found themselves trailing Carrington 8-5 in the fifth set. The Lions then went on a 10-0 run to punch their ticket to their third consecutive state tourney.

It just wasn't their time on Saturday.

Northern Cass established an early 4-2 lead but lost it as Emma Weiser and ShayLee Bosch rallied to produce back-to-back points to tie things up at four points apiece. The Jaguars rebounded to put two more on the board but an attack error and a service error allowed the Lions to pounce and tie things up again.

"Our defense just kept fighting," Richter said. "They wouldn't let a ball drop. Grace Keeney had an exceptional game back there. She was digging balls left and right, reading the hitters' shoulders. Our girls didn't quit, that's all we can ask."

A push from Gracie Schumacher to the deep corner gave the two-time defending state champs a 7-6 lead. A couple more points made it 9-6 Linton forcing Northern Cass to take a timeout. A couple of unfortunate bobbles and no-touch calls put the Jags back on top.

"I've been dreaming about this one since a year ago to the day," Northern Cass head coach Angie Johnson said. "These girls put in so many hours over the summer at team camps so for it to be here and have it happen the way that it did was amazing.

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Northern Cass team members celebrate their win over Linton-HMB in the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament championship game at the Bismarck Events Center on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

"I knew they were a great defending team," she said of Linton. "Right away we scored a lot of points on them and then they stepped up their defense and it made our girls work a little harder which we aren't really used to. We had to get in the mindset that they were going to dig and get touches on everything so we just needed to get over that and keep being aggressive."

Up 11-9, Northern Cass had a scare when Bosch hit a ball off the block to make it 11-10 Jaguars. After a tricky tip doubled Northern Cass' lead, Johnson subbed in Josie Jensen.

"That girl — she's our big man in the middle," Johnson said. "She does a great job. She sees the court really well and is really confident. She's up there to take away space and she takes away a big space.

The 6-foot-3 junior middle blocker hit three straight kills to seal the deal and bring on the tears.

Still, Richter said her team has nothing to be sorry about.

"No disappointment here," Richter said. "I think back and our team worked hard. We've been playing this team for three years now and this was their time. I really believe that. It's their turn to celebrate. We've had a lot of success Two state titles and one second-place are not bad."

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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