BONNE TERRE – After struggling at times to simply keep the volleyball in play, Bismarck found its defensive identity under pressure on Thursday.
The Lady Indians capped their comeback by scoring the last 10 points in a row, fueled by several impressive stops along the back row, and topped North County 9-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 15-5.
Sophomore Halie Dickey totaled 14 kills and 12 digs, and Trinity Boyer finished with 13 kills, three blocks and seven digs as Bismarck (11-4-1) played its second straight five-set contest.
North County (1-11-1) got seven blocks from Ayrianna McClanahan plus a team-high seven kills from outside hitter Kenzi Price, but could not capitalize on a promising start.
Morgan Randazzo stayed at the service for the closing flurry, and compiled 23 assists with 12 digs at setter. She served an ace on match point after Alyssa Brake landed two swings from the middle.
Dickey snapped a 5-5 tie in give five by tipping past a double block, then ripped a spike down the line after Jacey King scored along the right side..
Ashley Hawkins added her ninth and final kill from the back row after she and Boyer reached low to handle blistering spikes from North County. Hawkins had a team-high 20 digs.
The Lady Raiders jumped ahead 7-1 in game four with setter Megan Reed serving after Claire Jenkins landed a right-side, cross-court attack near the sideline.
But the momentum ultimately hinged on two extended runs by the Indians. Jacey King delivered three aces in a 7-0 streak as the North County serve receive began to unravel.
Price restored a 12-10 lead for the Lady Raiders from the left side, but Randazzo rotated back for her first stretch of 10 straight points following an answer from Dickey.
King cleared from a nearly impossible angle while saving a ball below the net. Dickey terminated four points later when Hawkins traded two digs with Karlie Straughan and Addy Mann in a superb rally.
Hawkins produced kills on a spike and softer push, and Boyer executed a solo block on set point to square the match after a McClanahan block kept North County within 22-16.
Stout defense powered the Lady Raiders toward winning game three. Makaila Moore and Reed were ready when Bismarck attacked the setters, and their teammates alertly reacted on second touches.
North County faced a 16-9 hole after Boyer registered a spike and kill on back-to-back points and Kinsey Hubbs unleashed an ace for the Lady Indians.
Straughan sparked an immediate 9-0 response with a kill, however, and Moore mixed in a pair of aces before a remarkable effort accounted for the go-ahead point.
Camille Tiefenauer flung her arm to clear a ball while crashing to the floor. Her acrobatic overhead clear in similar fashion during the second set was even more spectacular.
Bismarck trailed 22-20 after Hawkins tracked an errant pass beyond the sideline for a Dickey kill, but a well-placed tap shot by Moore and ace from Mya Claywell put the Lady Raiders ahead two sets to one.
North County countered two successive digs by Hubbs to carry a rally during a 6-0 spurt early on, and Straughan nailed a back-row kill to create a 12-5 lead.
A double-block by McClanahan and Jenkins pushed the margin to 17-7, and a series of digs from Mann and Straughan trumped eventual errors from the Lady Indians.
Bismarck avoided a daunting two-game deficit by connecting for 12 kills in the second stanza. Hawkins and Dickey struck with timely kills after trailing 18-15, and Boyer sent down an overpass at 24-22.
Struaghan turned aside the first game point from the left side, but misfired on a potential tying spike. She finished with five kills and 14 digs.
Hubbs totaled 10 assists and nine digs, and libero Alyssa Martinez brought up eight digs for Bismarck, which earned a second victory this season over a Class 4 opponent.
Moore amassed 13 digs, 10 assists and six kills for North County. Claywell tallied five kills and Jenkins added four kills plus three blocks.
Mann paced her squad with 14 digs, and Tiefenauer had 11. Reed contributed 14 assists and 10 digs.