The Brainerd Warriors dug.
They served and they blocked but the Bemidji Lumberjacks outlasted Brainerd 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 28-26 to take the non-conference volleyball match Thursday at Brainerd High School.
Tied 23-23 in the decisive game four, the teams battled back and fourth. Twice, Brainerd could have closed it out. Brainerd held leads of 24-23 and 26-25 but couldn't bury Bemidji.
Not even Chelsey Weiss' 34 set assists or Mandy Ramey's consistent serving could give Brainerd the boost it needed.
"Mandy (Ramey), we just rallied around her on the serve, multiple times on the serve," said Warriors coach Lori Dean.
Bemidji 3, Brainerd 1
Overall: Brd 5-13
Next: Brainerd at Cretin-Derham Hall tournament Saturday.
"I just think we gave up too many points early in matches and that hurt us late."
Brainerd's Paige Olson didn't suffer from a Warrior Athlete of the Week jinx as she rattled off six ace serves, 12 kills, 10 digs and four blocks. The junior served three consecutive aces in game two, helping Brainerd come back from a 7-1 deficit.
The Warriors rallied to tie it 12-12 before both teams traded points. Two Warrior serving errors helped the Lumberjacks jump to a 22-20 lead and hold on to win game two.
Kelsey Rassatt finished with 12 digs, five kills and one block. The junior collected two straight kills, helping Brainerd tie game three at 16-16. Rassatt's offense was part of a 5-0 Brainerd run. But it wasn't enough to overcome a 6-0 Lumberjack start as Brainerd again lost its momentum.
"If we hadn't spotted that lead you wonder," said Dean. "We had to use our momentum to catch up, rather than using our momentum to lead. That's the thing we have to change. There at the end we did kind of have that momentum going."
Brainerd opened the match on fire, jumping to a 4-1 game-one lead. Hannah Fossum, who finished with 12 digs, seven kills and one block, broke a 21-21 tie with one of her spikes.
Brainerd then rattled off four straight points to win game one.
"Every time we play at home we're getting better and better," said Dean. "We came in here and took a game away from them. That was really important. Plus, we were in all of them to the end. That's huge for us. We're playing better every game."
Chelsey Weiss 10-10 serving, 2 ace serves, 14 digs, 24 ace serves
Hanna Fossum 7 kills, 12 digs, 1 block
Joetta Johnson 1 ace serve, 3 kills, 6 digs
Kylie Abrahamson 6 kills, 16 digs, 5 set assist, 1 block
Liz Ellens 1 kill, 3 digs
Mandy Ramey 5 digs
Paige Olson 6 ace serves, 12 kills, 10 digs, 4 blocks
Jennifer Niklaus 1 kill
Niki Gorvin 1 ace serve, 5 digs
Kelsey Rassatt 5 kills, 12 digs, 1 block
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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