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Michael Weber / Bismarck Tribune, Published June 18 2013

East tops West in Optimist volleyball for second straight night

BISMARCK – Mackenzie Schwartz felt like she was in setters’ heaven this past week.

It’s easy to understand why, given all of the heavy hitters on the East roster.

Schwartz, a Hatton-Northwood product, set up 19 kills Tuesday night as the East topped the West 25-22, 25-15, 25-12, 22-25 at Dick Karlgaard Gymnasium to complete a two-match sweep of the North Dakota Optimist and North Dakota High School Coaches Association All-Star volleyball series.

Schwartz had 23 assists in the East’s sweep Monday night at Fargo.

“It was so much fun this last week. As a setter, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of hitters to work with,” Schwartz said. “They’re all so talented and strong. They made it really easy for me.”

Kellie Schmit of Kindred, the match’s most valuable player, and Christina Bruenjes of West Fargo each put down nine kills to lead the winners. Hadley Steffen of Grand Forks Red River had seven kills. Six other East players got into the kill column. Bruenjes had 14 finishes on Monday night.

Amy Freeberg of Fargo Shanley had 11 assists in the finale.

“When you’re new to each other and you don’t have a lot of time to work together, you get a little concerned about the timing and stuff, but it didn’t take us long to click,” said Schwartz, who also had two kills, one block and seven digs in the match. “And it wasn’t just the setters and the hitters. The passing was right on both nights, too. It takes a team effort to get a kill.”

Schmit, Steffen and Schwartz had two kills apiece in a key 7-1 run that put the East ahead to stay in the first set. The run turned a 15-12 deficit into a 19-16 lead. Later, a Bruenjes kill ended it.

In the second set, Kali Erickson of Fargo Davies had back-to-back kills to cap a 7-0 run that gave the East a 19-12 advantage. The West never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Schmit, a University of North Dakota recruit who led Kindred to the Class B state championship last fall, put her serving skills on display in the third set. She served up four straight aces in a 5-0 spurt that extended the East’s lead to 20-11. The East ended the set on a 10-1 run.

Schmit finished with five aces, one short of the Optimist record.

The West took the guaranteed fourth set 25-22. Sara Bohrer of Century, one of three coaches for the West, said the first and fourth sets were much like Monday’s match.

“It was a sweep, but it was a really close match,” she said. “The East has some great hitters and they played very well tonight, although I felt we did a nice job getting touches on the ball.

“We had a great time, though,” Bohrer continued. “It was a fun week.”

Morgan Milbrath of Minot and Siri Jystad of Jamestown each had five kills to top the West. Other West leaders were Ali Moody of Dickinson 10 assists, Ashley Bohrer of Century four blocks, and Rachael Hansana of Hazen seven digs.

It was the East’s first sweep in the series since 2003. The East holds a 27-19 advantage overall.

EAST – Kills: Kellie Schmit 9, Christina Bruenjes 9, Hadley Steffen 7, Kristen Johnson 4, Kali Erickson 3, Abbey Braaten 2, Mackenzie Schwartz 2, Cassidy Bush 2, Emily Berge 1. Blocks: Bruenjes 4, Schmit 3, Bush 3, Steffen 2, Johnson 1, Schwartz 1, Berge 1, Erickson 1. Assists: Schwartz 19, Amy Freeberg 11, Bush 1. Digs: Steffen 9, Schwartz 7, Taylor Preston 6, Bush 5, Mikaela Casey 4, Johnson 4, Schmit 3, Braaten 3, Berge 2, Erickson 2. Aces: Schmit 5, Bush 3, Braaten 1, Preston 1.

WEST – Kills: Morgan Milbrath 5, Siri Jystad 5, Alison Schieno 3, Rachel Schroeder 2, Ali Moody 2, Ashley Koppinger 1. Blocks: Ashley Bohrer 4, Moody 3, Schroeder 2, Jystad 2, Koppinger 2, Milbrath 1. Assists: Moody 10, Lexie Munson 3. Digs: Rachael Hansana 7, Koppinger 6, Moody 5, Karli Sanders 3, Milbrath 3, Micaela Meyer 2, Schroeder 2, Jystad 2, Munson 2. Aces: Munson 2, Hansana 1, Meyer 1.