FARGO -- It was as easy as 1, 2, 3 for the Linton/HMB volleyball team.

The Lions clinched its 24th consecutive win this season with a three-set sweep over Our Redeemers in the opening round of the Class B volleyball tournament. The undefeated Lions will face Northern Cass Friday at 7 p.m.

Our Redeemers will face Dickinson Trinity tomorrow at 4 p.m.

"I was pretty happy," Linton/HMB head coach Jaime Richter said of her team's opening performance. "I don't feel like they came out scared which, when you haven't been here in eight years, it can be a little scary.

"I feel really good about this team. They are always focused, ready to play volleyball and ready for any challenge."

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Our Redeemers was a challenge that the Lions had seen before.

Linton/HMB swept the Knights twice during the regular season but even with the familiarity between the two teams, the Knights had some trouble reading Linton's front row.

The Lions came out swinging in the first putting up an early 5-1 run to make the score 8-3 forcing Our Redeemers' head coach Kara Nunziato to take an early timeout.

"It was just about stopping momentum," Nunziato said of the early break. "Linton is a team you can't let get consecutive points on you. I just kept telling (the Knights) to play with pride and keep chipping away one point at a time."

Nunziato's direction combined with the players' determination helped the Knights to go on a 7-2 run, but the score was still 24-15 Linton. Linton's all-time ace leader JayCee Richter ended it with a floater from the backline. Richter's ace total is now a whopping 304.

Set No. 2 was more of a battle with the Knights keeping within five points of the Lions the majority of the game. Big hits from outsides Maya Vibeto and Sydney Popinga got past the Lions' usually steady defense to put the game within two points. The duo has taken over on the outside for the Knights after the team's two starting outsides suffered season-ending ACL injuries.

Vibeto, just a freshman for Nunziato, ended her state tournament debut with five official attacks and 10 digs popped up to setter Eden Olson.

"She's brought a lot of spunk to the floor," Nunziato said of Vibeto. "Her bread and butter is her quick defensive ability and the speed that she brings to the court.

She doesn't play like a freshman whatsoever. She's extremely mentally tough and I think she'll be a name to watch as the years go by."

Richter was watching points go by and with the second set too close for comfort, she decided to use her 60 seconds to calm down her squad.

"We were playing a little bit out of system and that is not our game," Richter said. "It was definitely our passing game -- we have to pass directly to our setter and in that moment we weren't."

Richter's group responded with five answered points to put the home team up 21-13. The Knights put up four before the final whistle blew but a couple of well-placed balls from the Lions' front three and a few defensive bobbles by Our Redeemers ended it 25-17.

The Knights would take their first lead of the match in set three outscoring the Lions' 3-2. Unfortunately, that would be the last time the Knights would lead during the game.

"We knew tonight would be a really challenging match," Nunziato said. "We did the best that we could against a very well balanced offensive and defensive line. I am really proud of this team."

Our Redeemers stuck with Linton, tying the game at three, five and seven points but there was no stopping the Lions once they got a little bit of momentum swinging their way.

Linton middle hitter Emily Kelsch came up big for the Lions leading the team to an unanswered eight-point run to make the score 20-9. Richter said Kelsch's five kills, 10 digs and team-high of five aces fueled Linton's fire.

"I went into the locker room and was like, 'Emily you had a phenomenal game,'" Richter said with a smile. "Tonight our player of the game was Emily for sure. Every time she hit the ball she kept them out of system. I was really happy with her."

Linton clinched the first-round win off a kill from outside Teegan Scherr when she sent in right in the middle gap. Scherr ended her first state tourney match with eight kills and seven digs.

"I told them to enjoy the win for two hours, then at 7' o'clock we'll have to be ready to go for round two again," Richter said.

Linton/HMB 3, Our Redeemers 0

OR -- 15 17 12

L/HMB -- 25 25 25

OR -- Kills: Popinga 6, Olivia 5, Vibeto 5, Olson 3, Audrey Griedl 2, Calli Weekley 2. Assists: Olson 17. Digs: Kendal Braun 24, Olson 16, Popinga 11, Vibeto 10, Halli Vibeto 2, Weekley 2, Griedl 2, Nelson 1. Aces: Vibeto 1. Blocks: Nelson 2.

L/HMB -- Kills: JayCee Richter 10, Scherr 8, ShayLee Bosch 7, Kelsch 5, Kim Gefroh 3. Assists: Gracie Schumacher 31. Digs: Callie Hase 21, Richter 14, Kelsch 10, Schumacher 7, Scherr 7, Gefroh 5, Bosch 3. Aces: Kelsch 5, Scherr 2, Gefroh 1, Richter 1, Hase 1, Schumacher 1. Blocks: Kelsch 3, Richter 2, Bosch 2, Schumacher 1, Gefroh 1, Scherr 1.




NOV. 19

G1: Bismarck Century 3, Valley City 0 (25-15, 25-9, 25-18)

G2: Fargo Davies 3, Mandan 2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-11, 20-25, 16-14)

G3: West Fargo 3, Bismarck Legacy 1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 26-24)

G4: Jamestown 3, W.F. Sheyenne 2 (25-16, 14-25, 25-14, 19-25, 15-8)

NOV. 20

G5: Valley City vs. Mandan, 10 a.m.

G6: Legacy vs. West Fargo Sheyenne, 1 p.m.

G7: Century vs. Fargo Davies, 4 p.m.

G8: West Fargo vs. Jamestown, 7 p.m.

NOV. 21

Seventh place: Loser G5 vs. Loser G6, 10 a.m.

Fifth place: Winner G5 vs. Winner G6, 10 a.m.

Third place: Loser G7 vs. Loser G8, 4 p.m.

Championship: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 7 p.m.



NOV. 19

G1: Thompson 3, Flasher 0 (25-12, 25-20, 25-20)

G2: Langdon/EM 3, Kenmare 0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-22)

G3: Linton/HMB 3, Our Redeemer's 0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-12)

G4: Northern Cass 3, Dickinson Trinity 0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-15)

NOV. 20

G5: Flasher vs. Kenmare, 10 a.m.

G6: Our Redeemers vs. Dickinson Trinity, 1 p.m.

G7: Thompson vs. Langdon/EM, 4 p.m.

G8: Linton/HMB vs. Northern Cass, 7 p.m.

NOV. 21

Seventh place: Loser G5 vs. Loser G6, 10 a.m.

Fifth place: Winner G5 vs. Winner G6, 10 a.m.

Third place: Loser G7 vs. Loser G8, 4 p.m.

Championship: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 7 p.m.