Thursday’s championship match of the Region 4 volleyball tournament was highly reminiscent of John L. Sullivan’s historic battle of more than 100 years ago when Sullivan won the last bare knuckle fight in boxing history.
Langdon and Carrington went toe-to-toe for much of the match between two of the most successful teams in the region over the past several years.
But in the end it was Langdon that came away with the win and earning a trip to the state tournament next week in Minot.
“I am speechless,” Langdon coach Rich Olson said after watching his team rally from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Carrington 26-24, 21-25, 13-25, 25-18, 15-11 at the Devils Lake Sports Center.
“We never gave up,” Olson later said as the achievement of his team began to sink in.
The decisive fifth set was tied several times, as were each of the previous four thrillers, but when a block attempt by Carrington sailed wide, Langdon found itself in front 11-10 and appeared to have set itself up with match point when Brenna Downs tipped the ball over the net to put Langdon in fron 14-10. But Langdon was whistled for a back row attack on the play and the point was awarded to Carrington with a chance to pull closer.
Langdon tallied the next point, and the deciding point, as Langdon earned its 15th berth in the state tournament. No other Class B school has as many.
Carrington, which was appearing in the region championship match for the third consecutive year, did manage to win a set in a region title match for the first time, but that was little consolation for Carrington coach Sharon Boehmer.
“There are no words to describe the pain that exists right now,” Boehmer said. “We have expected the highest of highs and the lowest of lows ...”
“We knew (Langdon) was too good of a team to not come back, and they came back fiercely.”
“I knew the places where we could get kills,” said Olson, whose team was thwarted several times in the first three sets by Carrington standout Madison Wendel.
“We had to be aware of where she was at on the floor and make sure we found ways to work around her. We did a nice job of mixing things up.”
Abbey Braaten led Langdon with 27 kills on the night. The senior also tallied six service aces to lead Langdon in that department.
Wendel, just a junior, paced Carrington with 14 kills and shared the team lead in blocks with Nikki Braaten and Breana Barton. All three had three blocks.
Carrington 24 25 25 18 11
Langdon 26 21 13 25 15
Carrington — Kills: Madison Wendel 14, Kayla Hochhalter 13, Breana Barton 8, Josey Page 6. Blocks: Wendel 3, Nikki Braaten 3, Barton 3. Assists: Page 25, Braaten 17. Digs: Page 7, Hochhalter 7, Hannah Lipetsky 6. Aces: Wendel 2, Barton 2, Page 1, Hochhalter 1.
Page 2 of 2 - Langdon — Kills: Abbey Braaten 27, Lyndee Johnson 9, Madison Hart 6, Julia Kartes 4. Blocks: Braaten 3. Assists: Brenna Downs 36. Aces: Braaten 6, Johnson 3, Downs 3, Hart 2.