FARGO — Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich is back in the state championship match.
The defending titleholders advanced to the state final with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-15 sweep of Thompson in the North Dakota Class B state volleyball tournament semifinals on Friday at the Fargodome.
The Cardinals will meet No. 1 Linton-HMB in the final on Saturday.
“We want to keep that title so bad,” senior hitter Lexis Olson said. “We’re so excited. We know how it feels to win from last time. Everybody has done an amazing job to get us here. We have not faced Linton or Northern Cass this year. I think we were supposed to play them both, but we didn’t get to because of COVID. I think it will be an advantage for us, just like we hadn’t played Oakes before last year’s championship.”
The Cardinals' front line made life hard on the Tommies. The combination of the 5-foot-11 Olson, 6-0 freshman Cora Badding, 5-10 senior Kaylee Lowery, and 5-11 senior Morgan Freije formed a wall that Thompson’s undersized unit that features two 5-7 hitters struggled to get the ball over. The Tommies adjusted as the match wore on, but it continued to be a struggle.
“We knew we had to work on our blocking from the last time we played them,” Olson said. “We made sure to work on that for this time, especially knowing who is where. Our tactic was to do a single block because they don’t normally go to the middle. So having our pins stay on the outside was important and that was very effective for us.”
Friday’s match was L-E-M’s third time playing Thompson, and each time the outcome has improved for the Cardinals. The Tommies won the first match 3-2, the Cardinals won the second match 3-1 and swept the third.
“We’ve played them so many times,” Olson said. “We could learn from our film and learn from what we did last time.”
Olson notched a double-double for the Cardinals with 12 digs and a team-high 13 kills to go along with three blocks. Freije also had a double-double with 10 kills and 15 digs. Badding had 10 kills and Lowery led the team with four blocks.
“I like to look at where their block is and their defense,” Olson said. “In the middle, tipping wasn’t as effective for us this time and we tried to hit the deep corners. But everybody stepped up, everybody did a wonderful job.”
Alexis Telehey led Thompson with 10 kills, while Mackenzie Hughes had 17 assists and 11 digs.