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Steffan, Kadrmas lead Heart River past Beulah in match between district No. 1 seeds

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Heart River seniors Kaitlyn Rahr and Miranda Kadrmas, right, try to block a ball while Beulah senior Anna Iverson on Tuesday night at the Belfield High School gymnasium. In a meeting between the top seeds from District 13 and 14, Heart River won 3-0.

BELFIELD -- The number one was a common theme after Heart River and Beulah took the floor Tuesday night.

In a match between the top-seeded volleyball teams in District 13 and 14, the Cougars swept the Miners, 25-20, 25-22, 25-19 at the Belfield High School gymnasium.

"I wasn't sure coming into the game," Heart River middle hitter Miranda Kadrmas said. "I was just hoping that we would give it our all."

Kadrmas ended with 13 kills, 16 digs and eight blocks. She sits one kill away from 1,000 for her career.

Heart River head coach Craig Pool knew heading into the final set that Kadrmas needed seven kills to reach the milestone, but didn't want to jinx the possibility.

"I didn't want her to know, because I didn't want her to be freaking out about it," he said with a laugh.

Heart River (26-5, 5-0 District 13) had a challenge playing Beulah's two 6-foot-2 senior hitters. Kaycee Link had nine kills and four blocks, while Anna Iverson didn't have many kills, but attracted attention.

"My thoughts were, 'Oh my God, watch out,'" Pool said. "Beulah has a lot of weapons."

It was Beulah's (22-9-1) first loss outside of district and Region 7 play.

"We've had a hard time with them (the Cougars) for the past couple of years," Beulah head coach Kevin Peterson said. "We just didn't do enough. They were better than we were and it showed on the court."

The Cougars started hot right off the bat, taking an early 14-8 lead that prompted Peterson to use his first timeout. However, the break worked to Heart River's advantage as it increased its lead to 23-13.

Heart River appeared to have the first set in the bag, but the Miners stormed back to cut the lead down to three, 23-20. The Cougars got kills from seniors Quinn Steffan, who had a match-high 15 kills, and Kadrmas to close out the set.

The momentum carried over to the second set as Heart River jumped out to a 5-0 lead. That lead quickly diminished and it was a race to get to 25.

"We couldn't get them out of system enough," Peterson said. "We were out of system a lot. They played really well."

The Cougars maintained a three-point lead throughout most of set. Brittney Tift, who only had three kills in the match, knocked an important kill for the game winner the second set.

In the final set, Beulah appeared to find its offensive rhythm. That newfound tempo and momentum quickly turned to the Cougars though.

Heart River grabbed a 22-19 lead and Kadrmas took it from there.

"We didn't make a couple plays where we should be in spots defensively," Peterson said. "Then our communication wasn't as good as it should be."

Kadrmas knocked down two kills and Beulah committed a net violation to end the match.

Though Peterson doesn't like to lose, there were positives to take away from the game.

"It's a double-edged sword," Peterson said. "As head coach, I've never been a fan of losing, but if we can take a few things from there to be better down the road."

Heart River heads into its District 13 tournament at 6 p.m. Monday at Bowman County High School. The Cougars have an opening-round bye and face the winner of No. 4 seed New England and No. 5 Hettinger-Scranton.

"I think this was a glimpse on how we can play," Kadrmas said. "This truly proved how we can play and the tempo we can have."

Beulah 20 22 19 -- 0

HR 25 25 25 -- 3

Kills: B, Kelsie Schmidt 10, Kaycee Link 9, Meghan Battest 8. HR, Quinn Steffan 15, Miranda Kadrmas 13, Brittney Tift 3.

Blocks: B, Link 4. HR, Kadrmas 8, Nettie Splichal 8, Steffan 7.

Aces: B, Battest 5, Heidi Zimmerman 1. HR, Kadrmas 2, Lacy Obrigewitch 1.

Digs: B, Battest 15, Schmidt 12, Nicole Lorenz 12. HR, Splichal 18, Kadrmas 16, Steffan 12.

Assists: B, Lakin Kessler 19, Kaitlyn Grad 5. HR, Splichal 16, Kaitlyn Rahr 5, Obrigewitch 2.

Records: B, 22-9-1. HR, 26-5, 5-0 District 13.