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Century uses big runs, momentum to defeat Dickinson in state semifinals

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson junior Keely Hutchens, middle, and senior Taylor Cooper, right, go up for a block against Bismarck Century senior Tyler Bulawa, left, during the semifinals of the Class A state volleyball tournament on Friday night at the Minot State Dome.

MINOT -- The Bismarck Century and Dickinson High volleyball teams are known for their knock-down, drag-out, five-set matches.

This wasn't one of those matches.

The Patriots, the No. 1 seed from the West, swept Dickinson, the No. 3 seed from the West, 25-23, 25-15, 25-18 in the semifinals of the Class A state volleyball tournament Friday at the Minot State Dome.

"Early on in set two, we had a couple things not go our way that gave Century the momentum," Dickinson head coach Jay Schobinger said. "They took it and ran with it. Tonight just wasn't our night."

The two regular-season meetings between the teams went five sets with both winning one of those decisions. Century came into the semifinal match on an 18-match win streak. It took a set, but the Patriots eventually found the cruise control.

The Patriots hit their groove in the second set. Century built its leads on six- and eight-point unanswered runs. Dickinson wasn't able to match those surges.

The crucial duo in the set was Hannah Larson, who was silenced at the start, and Tyler Bulawa, who jammed her thumb at the beginning of the season. They combined for 17 kills.

"We were just thinking about staying positive no matter what," Larson said. "We didn't want to let up, because they could have easily got back in the game."

"Dickinson is a great team," Bulawa added. "They pushed us to the limit, but we knew we had to step up."

From there, Century had the momentum to finish out the match with a sweep. Century's Ali Hasche, who carried the team in the first set, came around in the third and finished with 14 kills.

"Every single hitter we have has the ability to be a presence on the court," Century co-head coach Sara Bohrer said. "Our setter has been great at mixing it up too."

Bismarck Century co-head coach Jamie Zastoupil said blocking was going to biggest part in the game. The Patriots had a total of six blocks, including three from Larson and Ashley Bohrer.

"Our blocking was huge for us," Zastoupil said. "We knew to be successful tonight, our blocking had to be the key to the match. It was."

Dickinson's senior outside hitter Abby Grove, who led the team in kills throughout the season, hit long for the final point to end the Midgets' chances for their first state championship berth since 2006. Grove had 15 kills.

"You're going to go with the person that has gotten you there a majority of the time," Schobinger said.

"It was hard to see," Grove said, fighting back tears.

Dickinson started out with a 17-11 lead and Century immediately answered with a timeout. The brief break proved to be the answer the Patriots needed. Century went on a 7-1 run to knot up the match at 18-18.

The Midgets took a 23-21 lead, but the Patriots went on a 4-0 run to close out a first-set win. Larson and Buwala teamed up on the set-winning block.

"Tyler knew going into this match that she had to be a key blocker," Bohrer said. "She knew what her job was, stepped up and got the job done."

The Midgets also had Ali Moody, who is verbally committed to play volleyball at North Dakota State, with 17 assists, 12 digs, six kills and three blocks. Jess Priebe added 14 and Keely Hutchens had four digs, two blocks and two kills.

For the Patriots, Shay Bense supplied 35 assists and seven digs, while Katie Chase had a team-high 11 digs and two aces.

Century is in a championship rematch from last year with Grand Forks Red River at 5 p.m. today, while Dickinson plays West Fargo in the third-place game at 1 p.m.

"We just have to have a short memory," Schobinger said. "You're not playing for a state title, but you get an opportunity to play one more time. We want to go out, play hard and had fun with it."

Dickinson 23 15 18 -- 0

Century 25 25 25 -- 3

Kills: D, Abby Grove 15, Ali Moody 6, Rachel Schroeder 4, Keely Hutchens 2. C, Ali Hasche 14, Hannah Larson 11, Tyler Bulawa 6, Jordyn Jossart 5.

Blocks: D, Moody 3, Hutchens 2. C, Larson 3, Ashley Bohrer 3.

Aces: D, Grove 1. C, Katie Chase 2, Courtney Kessler 1.

Digs: D, Jess Priebe 14, Moody 12, Mackee Hoffmann 8. C, Chase 11, Kessler 10, Jossart 8, Shay Bense 7, Hasche 7.

Assists: D, Moody 17, Madison Schobinger 8. C, Bense 35.