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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published November 21 2013

St. Mary's overcomes Stroup's 29 kills to defeat Bruins

MINOT, N.D. – Bismarck St. Mary’s had an answer for Emily Stroup: balance.

Stroup poured down 29 kills Thursday night. That wasn’t enough to advance Fargo South, however, as St. Mary’s handed the Bruins a 27-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-20 setback in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state volleyball tournament.

Stroup was only three shy of tying the state-tournament record of 32 kills in a match, set by Red River’s Hadley Steffen last season. “I wish we could re-do it,” the South sophomore said of the match. “It would be nicer to get the win.”

Instead, it was the balance of St. Mary’s that prevailed.

Katelyn Schaffner paced St. Mary’s with 14 kills, followed by Mary Roller (13) and Kaylyn Herold (eight). Herold had seven blocks and Ashley Wanner four as St. Mary’s held an 18-4 advantage in blocks.

“She (Stroup) is an amazing player,” Saints coach Amy Heuer said. “But we had a couple of amazing players, too.

“We have a really balanced group of hitters. Any time you can spread the ball around, it makes you harder to defend.”

South also received seven kills from Madeline Erickson and six from Madison McConn, but only seven from the rest of the team.

“It’s got to be a team effort,” Bruins coach Andrea Hummel said. “Our back row play struggled. That really slowed us down.”

Except for Stroup. “She can still make things happen,” Hummel said. “That’s the beauty of being really good like she is.”

The Saints also were strong down the stretch.

South was up 23-21 in the opener. But St. Mary’s closed out a 6-2 run with a pair of blocks for the go-ahead and winning points. St. Mary’s led by as many as eight in winning the second set.

Then, with the teams tied at 4-all in the third, there was a power outage and the Minot State Dome was nearly dark. After a nearly 90-minute delay, play resumed and South won the third set with a 4-1 run at the end.

But a 10-2 run in the final set gave St. Mary’s a 23-17 lead and South got no closer than three the rest of the way.

“I think (the power outage) tightened us up,” Heuer said. “It took us a set and a half to get our rhythm back.”

St. Mary’s improved to 24-9 while dropping South to 20-14.

FS (kills-blocks-service aces): Kaitlyn Anderson 0-0-0 (29 assists), Madeline Erickson 7-0-2, Abby Rokke 3-0-0, Madison McConn 6-2-0, Anna Lawley 1-2-0, Emily Stroup 29-1-2 (13 assists), Lyndie Wicklund 0-0-1 (20 digs), Carly Melander 3-1-0.

BSM: Caitlin Bakke 2-0-0, Ashley Kilzer 0-0-2, Katelyn Schaffner 14-2-2, Kaylyn Herold 8-7-0, Allie Reisenauer 1-0-1 (42 assists), Mary Roller 13-2-2, Ashley Wanner 3-4-0, Alexandra McIntee 4-3-0.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald