Lake Region State College picks up its 25th win of the season after beating Dawson Community College 25-21, 22-25, 25-22, 18-25, 15-11.

There were good moments for Lake Region State College volleyball in its match against Dawson Community College, such as Fabianne Besosa’s ‘oops’ point in the second set. There were bad moments as well — such as giving up a eight point lead that turned into a set loss. But it was the final moment that stood out from all the others.

A Maara Nelson kill gave the Royals the winning point as Lake Region State College defeated the Buccaneers in a NJCAA Division II, Region XIII five set quarterfinal thriller Wednesday night from the Sports Center. The Royals advanced to Saturday’s Region semifinal match against No. 15 North Dakota State College of Science.

“The message going into the fifth set was discipline, relentlessness and team unity,” Royals head coach Brigitte Greywater said she told her team after Dawson Community College won the fourth set 25-18 to force the deciding fifth.

In that fifth set, the Buccaneers had the lead once, at 3-2, but Jexley Porrata’s kill tied the set a 3-all and when the Royals grabbed the lead on the next point, they never looked back. An Annie Jorgenson kill put LRSC up five at 11-6. The Buccaneers got within three at 12-9 but the Royals finished DCC off winning the set 15-11.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for a program that just last season finished 6-28. LRSC will go into its match with the Wildcats Saturday 25-12 and the tournament’s third seed.

“Where we’ve come from and where we’re going … these young ladies have accomplished more than any team has in the (MonDak) in the sense of turning a program around. And they are following through and they have brought into this program at the highest level,” said Greywater.

That team unity was exemplified Wednesday night, especially on the defensive side. As a collective, the Royals had 118 digs, 30 apiece for Nelson and freshman Dani Schwanke. Rachel Hill, who had 53 assists and two aces, added 14 digs of her own. 

And the Royals needed every last dig, every last kill to fend off DCC. The first set went back and forth early and with the Buccaneers’ (13-19) leading at 13-12, Elizabeth Lucy’s block tied the set at 13 and the Jorgenson’s ace gave the Royals lead that they rode to a 25-21 win.

LRSC had everything going right in the second set, so much so that during a rally, Besosa softly pushed the ball over the net to just to prevent a fourth touch but it landed in a open spot on the floor between the Buccaneers’ defense. That point gave the Royals a 19-14 advantage. The Royals only scored three points after that and would lose the set 25-22 after leading by as much as eight.

“We started to coast and when we started to coast and they came back on that set, what happened was that we started doubting for a hot second. But, the doubt went away,” Greywater begin. “And that’s what had to happen.

“When the doubt went away, it was kill time.”

Once the Royals took the lead in the third set at 5-4, they built it to seven and won set No. 3 25-22. But the Buccaneers won the fourth set that set up the final game.

Along with her 30 digs, Nelson finished with 13 kills. Jorgenson had 14 kills and freshman Sydney Hertlein’s 17 kills led LRSC which has both extended its match winning streak to six and ended the Buccaneers streak at five. It was the third victory over DCC this season.

“(The win) tells us that we’re truly the No. 3 and now we have to go battle. I believe the Royals will show against NDSCS and it will be one of the best matches of the year,” Greywater said.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ