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Tom Mix, Published November 14 2013

Northern Cass tops central Cass in Region 1 volleyball final

KINDRED, N.D. – This time around the Northern Cass volleyball team kept its cool while playing Central Cass.

It made a world of difference.

The Jaguars defeated the Squirrels 18-25, 25-12, 25-17, 15-25, 15-12 during the championship of the North Dakota Class B, Region 1 tournament on Thursday at Kindred High School.

Entering Thursday, Central Cass had a 3-0 mark against Northern Cass this season.

“We knew they are a great team, and they beat us the three other times we played them, but this was the match that mattered,” Northern Cass senior Vanessa Johnson said. “We all worked as a team, and we were confident. … Everything worked for us.”

The victory earns Northern Cass (30-4-2) its first-ever trip to the state tournament, which begins next Thursday at the Minot State Dome.

This fall, the Class B tournament will seed the top four teams. The Jaguars will find out their opponent at 11 a.m. today.

Central Cass took the first set with strong serves and standout play from its back row.

Instead of going by the script down 1-0 to the Squirrels, the Jaguars moved on from the early setback and took Sets 2 and 3. The back-to-back wins were significant because Northern Cass had only won one set all season against Central Cass.

“I sensed our team’s confidence the last couple of matches,” Northern Cass head coach Tom Klapp said. “They really know that they can beat anybody. Even though we lost that first set, they responded really well. Once we got some momentum and we started to put some runs together, they started believing in it. When we do that, we are tough to beat.”

Johnson paced the Jaguars with 16 kills, but Northern Cass got plenty of production from its middle hitters Cassie Hilde and Ciara Mitzel. Mitzel finished with seven kills and Hilde posted nine, including one for match point in the deciding fifth set.

Northern Cass was up

14-9, but watched the Squirrels rally for three straight points. Finally, Northern Cass got a chance to set up an offensive attempt, and when Hilde saw a set from Brianna Olson come her way, she wanted to end the match.

“I was a little nervous,” Hilde said. “When it comes to that moment, you just have to do it. It was amazing to get that kill. When the ball came to me, I thought, ‘This is going to be the one. This is it.’”

Faith Dooley led Central Cass with 19 kills and two blocks. Kennedy Bresnahan added 12 kills for the Squirrels (35-4-1).

“Momentum is huge, and they did an excellent job of controlling the ball when they had it,” Central Cass head coach Chris Hahn said. “They won the mental game. There was a lot of pressure with this match, and they did a good job of controlling that.”

NORTHERN CASS (kills-blocks-aces): Hanson 1-0-4, Johnson 16-1-0, Hilde 9-1-0, Hoggarth 0-0-1, Olson 1-0-3 (44 assists), Mitzel 7-1-0, Verwest 4-0-1, McDonald 10-2-1.

CENTRAL CASS: Bresnahan 8-2-0, Camas 0-0-2, Grommesh 8-03, Romsdal 10-1-0, Dooley 19-2-0, Cramer 2-2-3, Erickson 0-0-2 (46 assists).

Third-place match

Third-place match

Oak Grove def. Kindred 25-14, 25-13, 25-23

KINDRED: M. Braaten 0-0-0 (7 assists), M. Erickson 1-0-0 (8 assists), Heitkamp 5-4-0, Graff 3-0-1, Hall 1-0-0, A. Erickson 9-1-0, Ordahl 0-0-1, A. Braaten 1-2-0, Piatz 1-0-1 (5 assists), Otterson 0-0-1.

OAK GROVE: Herzog 2-0-0, Kelley 12-2-0, Bokinskie 1-5-1 (23 assists), Zaeske 9-0-1, Kounovsky 6-0-0, Zasada 0-0-2, Lang 0-0-3, Jacobs 0-01, Dixon 1-0-0.

All-Region 1 tournament team

Northern Cass: Brianna Olson, Erin McDonald, Vanessa Johnson.

Central Cass: Faith Dooley, Alissa Erickson.

Kindred: Tessa Heitkamp, Alexandra Erickson.

Oak Grove: Hannah Kelley, Jenna Zaeske.

Senior Athlete of the Year

Vanessa Johnson, Northern Cass

Coach of the Year

Tom Klapp, Northern Cass

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562