BONNE TERRE — The Bismarck Lady Indians varied their attacks in trying to keep North County’s defense off-balance, and it worked to their advantage, forcing the Lady Raiders to make diving digs which resulted often in a free ball play instead of a North County attack in the second and third games.
The Lady Raiders captured the first game of the match, but consistent defense allowed Bismarck to win the next two for a 23-25, 25-19, 25-22 victory which should play a factor in the seedling of the conference tournament, later.
The first game started as a nightmare for both coaches as serves from both teams either found the net or went sailing out the back of the court. Once settled into the game, service errors became rare for both teams.
The two teams matched each other, error for error, and kill for kill with the score being tied nine times before they reached 13 points. Darcy Latham pulled the trigger for Bismarck during the early going for three kills, and Celeste Blum did the same for North County.
At 13-13, the Lady Raiders began to score in bunches as they called on middle hitter Brittany Collins to lead the attack. North County made their advantage 19-14 as the Lady Indians could not find an answer, and Coach Paula AuBuchon called time to help out her team.
The Lady Raiders traded side-outs until at 21-16, a kill by Chandler Politte for Bismarck put Shelby Gamblin at the service line. Gamblin served the Lady Indians to within two as Brettnie Henson delivered one of her three kills in the game and Gamblin followed with an ace on her next serve.
Henson continued to make her presence known on the front line as drove down a kill and made a stuff block to help the Lady Indians tie up the game again at 23-all.
North County Coach Jackie Morris collected her team for a time-out to get the Lady Raiders focused for the final points. The time-out helped as North County broke serve on a kill by Blum, and the game was capped off as Bismarck could not return the ball back over the net on North County’s next serve.
Game two started to be a repeat of game one, minus the serving errors, as both teams traded points and side-outs with regularity until they stood tied at 14-14.
Darcy Latham became the go-to hitter for the Lady Indians, and her kills were only matched in like by Collins for North County.
Baylee Burnett took charge of serving for Bismarck and the Lady Indians responded as Burnett served the Lady Indians to a 18-14 lead including an ace serve, forcing North County to call time to regroup.
Henson took over net patrol for the Lady Indians as she knocked down three kills, and Shelby Gamblin served Bismarck to within two of the goal line. The Lady Indians held the Lady Raiders to only side-outs for their last three serves and Politte served last point to even the match at one game apiece.
The Lady Raiders turned up their play a notch to start game three, digging up everything Bismarck hitters hit at them, and with hitters Kourtney Kekec and Jenna McGraw taking care of kills at the net, the Lady Raiders jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Even a time-out by Bismarck did not slow the Lady Raiders on Kylie Dement’s serve as they made it 7-0 before Bismarck broke serve.
The Lady Indians defense stiffened to hold North County to side-outs while they tried to catch up. Burnett was able to keep her serve going with Latham attacking from every angle for Bismarck, and the Lady Indians were able to take the lead at 13-12 on a net-clipping serve by Searia Ketcherside.
North County’s offense seemed to wear down as they were held to five straight side-outs as Bismarck moved out to a 20-16 lead. Chandler Politte three of her nine kills in the match to help the Lady Indians ride out the final points for the win.
Latham led Bismarck in kills with 11, and Henson had eight along with three stuff blocks. Gamblin had two stuff blocks in the match.
Collins was a force at the net for North County with 12 kills and a stuff block. Blum made six kills, and Dement made six assists.
Bismarck (6-2-2) will host Valle on Thursday for a conference match, North County (7-4-1) will be at home on Thursday to play Sullivan following Central’s game with the Lady Eagles.