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Beulah escapes Heart River, move to Region 7 title game

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Beulah junior outside hitter Jaime Murschel, middle, goes up for a kill between Heart River’s Mikayla Raskin, left, and Jada Mattson during the semifinals of the Region 7 Tournament on Tuesday at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

Three championship rounds in three years.

The Beulah volleyball team made its way back to the final round Tuesday night after taking out Heart River in four close sets 20-25, 25-19, 16-25, 27-25 during the Region 7 Tournament at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

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“We played very well with defending the ball,” Beulah head coach Kevin Peterson said. “They pushed us into some more attacking errors than we normally do, but I like the way that we responded, specifically defensively and then just tightening up offensively when we really needed to in the fourth set. I’m just proud of our kids.”

With everything on the line for Beulah and the chance at a comeback and another upset for Heart River, set four was nothing short of high intensity. The teams went back and forth, point for point with Heart River maintaining at least a two-point lead over Beulah for nearly the entire match. At point 24-23, Heart River senior middle blocker Desiree Johnson committed an attacking error, tying with Beulah for the first time since point 2-2.

Tied again at 25-25, Beulah junior outside hitter Delaney Johansen’s kill put the team ahead and junior outside hitter Jaime Murschel, who didn’t have a kill the whole set, smashed the ball across the court for the match-winning point.

“We knew tonight was going to be tough because they’re a good team and we couldn’t let our emotions get in the way,” Beulah junior outside hitter Nicole Schramm said.

Johansen, Schramm and Murschel each finished with double-digit kills and digs, recording 11 and 20, 10 and 17 and 21 and 15 respectively.

The Miners set the tone for the match with their performance in set one. The set appeared to be over before it began, as Beulah went out to a fast 5-0 lead and was up on Heart River 15-5. But the Cougars, who upset No. 1 Beach Monday, retaliated and outscored the Miners 15-6. But by point 21-20, Beulah pulled away with three straight kills and solidified its win with an ace by senior setter Lakin Kessler.

“Coach kept telling us we were going to catch them and we just believed in him and we did it,” Murschel said.

With Beulah up two games to none, and scored the set’s first three points off Heart River attacking errors, momentum started to swing in favor of the Cougars. The Miners committed nine hitting errors while Heart River recorded 10 kills and three aces in the set, keeping them alive for another game.

Johnson led the Cougars in kills with 12 and also added a dig and a block, while senior outside hitter Karli Northrop finished with a team-high 26 digs.

“Obviously we didn’t start game one or two the way we should have started it and it was really hard to overcome that, coming from a 2-0 and the way they played in games three and four,” Heart River head coach Hope Volesky said. “My girls worked hard, they battled back and fought for it and they have nothing to hang their heads about.”

Thursday’s championship match will be a repeat of the past two seasons, as Beulah takes on the host team, and No. 2 seed Dickinson Trinity. Last year, the Titans took down the Miners 3-2 and won by just two points in the fifth set. The Miners are well aware of the type of team Trinity is and the match will be a battle from the first point.

“They’re a really good tournament team and they’re tough,” Murschel said.

Schramm added: “We know they’re going to come out, so we just have to come out better.”

While fans look at this game as a rematch and a chance for revenge, Peterson is not. It’s a new season with two new teams and experiences. His starters and returners remember the heartache of losing so close and wants them to stay focused on this season in order to play with competitive and clear minds.

“It’s something in the back of our mind, we don’t really address it simply because it is a new season but it’s obviously not a revenge thing because it’s a new match and a new day but we gave ourselves a chance on Thursday night and hopefully we’ll play well.”

Beulah 25 25 16 27 — 3

Heart River 20 19 25 25 — 1

Kills: B, Jaime Murschel 21, Delaney Johansen 11, Nicole Schramm 10, Courtney Mitchell 4, Cassidy Schutt 2, Lakin Kessler 2, Nessa Iverson 1. HR, Desiree Johnson 12, Karli Northrop 6, Nettie Splichal 5, Addison Olson 4, Jada Mattson 2, Gracelynn Gross 1, Mikayla Raskin 1.

Blocks: B, Murschel 1. HR, Raskin 3, Johnson 2.

Aces: B, Kessler 3. HR, Mattson 2, Gross 2, Alex Poland 2, Northrop 1, Raskin 1.

Digs: B, Johansen 20, Schramm 17, Murschel 15, Iverson 11, Kessler 11, Rachel Funkhouser 5, Schutt 1. HR, Northrop 26, Poland 24, Mattson 9, Gross 6, Olson 6, Raskin 5, Mara Obrigewitch 4, Nettie Splichal 4, Johnson 1.

Assists: B, Kessler 44, Schramm 1, Murschel 1. HR, Mattson 28, Northrop 1, Obrigewitch 1.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.