BISMARCK — The opening set of the Class A volleyball state quarterfinal between Fargo Davies and Bismarck Century did not resemble a typical match between a top seed and bottom seed. The fourth-seeded Eagles pushed No. 1 West seed Century to extra sets in a neck-and-neck frame.
The Patriots ultimately outlasted Davies to take the first set, and the next two. Century knocked the Eagles out of championship play Thursday as it picked up a quarterfinal sweep (26-24, 25-11, 25-19) over the Eagles at Bismarck Event Center.
"I thought we came out and played really, really well," Davies head coach Carolyn Olson said. "That first one was incredibly competitive. I think we got a little tentative in set two and just kind of let them take charge. Set 3 I thought we did a nice job of battling back and being competitive again."
The Eagles challenged Century throughout the entire first set, which saw both sides punch back and forth. Neither team got more than two points ahead of the other.
An Ava Wild block gave Davies a narrow 20-18 lead, but not for long. Macy Fridgen delivered three straight kills to give the advantage back to Century. From there, the lead changed twice more. The Eagles survived a set point, thanks to a Camille Deringer kill. Century clinched the set 26-24 on a Logan Nissley kill and Davies attack error.
"I think that Century probably came out a little bit tentative. I thought we played really, really confident in Set 1," Olson said. "It's always frustrating when you go extra points and you don't come out with a victory. It's hard to bounce back from that in set two. I thought we did OK and then they went on a little bit of a run in the middle of a set and kind of put us back on our heels."
The defending state champions Patriots dominated the second set from start to finish. Century unleashed a relentless attack that Davies had no answer for. The Patriots used a multi-pronged attack to mount an 18-8 lead that kept stretching. Fridgen and Nissley contributed 10 kills apiece, while Claire Bauman had nine to fuel the attack.
The sides traded points to start the third and final set, but Century eventually broke away. Davies fought back to come within two points after being down by six (17-11) in the match, but were unable to catch the Patriots, who won the third frame on a Bauman kill.
Emma Lalic paced Davies' defensive effort with 12 digs. Ava Olson had 11 digs and seven kills, along with an ace, for the Eagles. Though it wasn't the outcome Davies wanted, Olson was proud of her team's effort.
"We've come a long way this season. We played these guys in the Bismarck tournament that first opening weekend and didn't compete nearly as well," Olson said. "I'm really proud of the effort we had tonight and the resiliency that the kids showed on the court."
The Eagles play Bismarck Legacy at 7 p.m. Friday in the consolation semifinals. Century will face Fargo Shanley at 3 p.m. in the semifinals.