North Star delivers 3-1 statement win against Langdon/Edmore/Munich

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

LANGDON - It was more than a run-of-the-mill regular-season finale between the North Star Bearcats and Langdon/Edmore/Munich Cardinals. Momentum swings, timely spikes and a packed gymnasium set the tone early and often. Even still, it did not take a zoologist to recognize the significance of the Cardinal vs. Bearcat battle at Langdon Area High School Monday evening.

Instead, it was a fine-tuner, not to mention a tone-setter. 

After all, the top two teams in the B Volleyball - Region 4 table were slugging it out in what looked to be a preview of the 2021 NDHSAA Class B Region 4 Volleyball Tournament at Devils Lake on Nov. 8. 

After a closely contested match that went to four sets, North Star came out victorious with the 3-1 victory on Nov. 1.

The Bearcats (21-0, 9-0) finished the regular season undefeated (excluding tournament play). The win was North Star’s first against Langdon/Edmore/Munich (18-3-2, 7-1) since Oct. 31, 2016 (3-1).

A Cardinal victory over the Bearcats during the Langdon Invitational on Oct. 9 left a sour taste in North Star’s palate. And so, they decided to respond. And in a tone-setting way.

“We practice every day on fighting back,” North Star head coach Aubree Page said after the match. “Our energy was amazing. One point we would earn, we would get so excited.”

A hard-fought set one created the tone of excitement early for the Bearcats. However, after a collection of aces and errors put the team in a 19-14 deficit, North Star battled back and rallied to collect the final three points and win set one, 26-24.

A 25-15 set two win continued to set the tone in favor of a North Star rout. However, a 25-17 set three win for the Cardinals looked to sap away all momentum from the Bearcats.

“We knew we had to fight,” senior middle hitter Danielle Hagler said after the match. “We battled the whole time, and we knew they were not going to back down when we went up two sets right away. It was a battle the whole time, so I kept telling the girls to fight, and we were not backing down. We came out on top.”

The Bearcats coming out on top would not have been possible without a tireless effort in maintaining court awareness.

After a back-and-forth set four brought forth more than half-a-dozen lead changes, it was Hagler who found the spotlight as the senior spiked the match-clinching kill after she killed the ball during the previous two plays.

In the end, North Star walked away with the 26-24 set four win and 3-1 match victory.

To Langdon/Edmore/Munich head coach Rich Olson, it all came down to the lack of execution through the early portions of the match. Although they had a plan mapped out, the Cardinals could act it out to their liking.

“Just all around, our skills need to be sharper, and our passing needs to be better, especially on the serve-receive,” Olson said. “If that had happened, I feel we would have had more success early on, and hopefully, we can come back and make some improvements in that.”

While Hagler grabbed the match by the horns through the waning minutes of play, she could not have had succeeded in providing the match clincher without a steady array of help from her supporting staff. Senior libero Gracie Miller finished the match with a team-high 35 digs, while senior setter Lindsey Nyhagen tallied a double-double (39 assists and 20 digs).

“The sets were amazing,” Hagler said. “The defense was working out, our passes were amazing and our setters were amazing. It was just a great feeling to have those girls on your team.”

A fresh set of legs, combined with a couple of extra clutch plays, netted the Bearcats the pivotal road victory. The success showed itself in more ways than one. 

Now, it is not solely about sustaining it into Devils Lake on Nov. 8. 

It is about maintaining the tone. 

“We know we are going to see them again, and we know what they bring to the table,” Page said. “We played them in the tournament (Langdon Invitational), but it was nice to play them again tonight, so we have the knowledge of what they can do.”