Errors prove costly for No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich in fifth set loss to No. 3 Thompson

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Freshman Jalynn Swanson goes for a dig in a game against No. 3 Thompson on Sept. 10 at Thompson High School. The Cardinals fell to the Tommies, 3-2.

The margin of error between Langdon/Edmore/Munich and Thompson has always been small. Both teams have a handful of state titles to their name, with at least one team making an appearance in the state championship game four out of the last five years. 

Expectations are high early on in the season as the Cardinals are defending a state title and a new NDPSSA poll puts both teams in the top three rankings. Any small slip up or unforced error could be a game changer for the other team. Thursday night in Thompson, two unforced errors were the game changer.

After fighting off a 2-1 deficit, forcing a decisive fifth game and holding a narrow lead, an unforced error and a service error from No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/Munich (1-1, 0-0 Region 4) would see the Cardinals full game comeback fall short and No. 3 Thompson’s (3-0, 0-0 Region 2) fifth set comeback come to completion. The Cardinals would suffer their first loss to the Tommies since 2018, 3-2 (19-25, 25-11, 17-25, 25-14, 13-15). 

“We came out slow and just didn’t respond to their pin attacks,” Cardinals head coach Rich Olson said. “They were spreading out well from pin to pin. As the night went on we got a little bit better at blocking and we had our moments where we were playing really good volleyball and getting them out of system. However, there were too many unforced errors, mistakes in the end and that’s why they came out ahead.” 

Despite errors building up and proving costly in the end, L/E/M’s talent proved why it was selected as the No. 1 team in Class B. Junior hitter Morgan Freije was a consistent striker throughout the night, picking up 18 kills, eight aces, and helped on the defensive end with nine digs. Standing next to her on the front line was senior hitter Lexis Olson, who’s all-around presence racked up 16 kills, a team-high 19 digs and five blocks.  

“Our talking is what really makes us work together,” Freije said. “That’s what really makes us click for everyone to reach their passing target.”

The sense of communication was what powered the Cardinals through four sets, but was spotty down the stretch in the fifth set. Freije said they’ve learned the importance of talking and moving the ball throughout the game and are focused on the next matchup. 

Throughout most of the game the Cardinals were playing catchup to the Tommies as the Thompson would jump out to an early 1-0 lead in set one. After a six point loss in set one, the Cardinals blew out the Tommies in set two, 25-10, forcing Thompson to rack up a total of six errors through two sets. Freije and Lexis Olson anchored the effort, upping their kill totals to 10 and seven. 

After Thompson picked up a second win in set three, 25-17, L/E/M saw their strongest comeback performance in set four, headed by freshman hitter Cora Badding. She would pick up eight kills in the final three sets for 15 on the night. She would follow that with a team high nine aces and eight digs. 

“We just needed to start playing better,” Olson said. “We were frustrated because we were making a lot of mistakes, and credit to them for getting us out of system. Their serves were really tough and their serves were really tough. We weren’t making the plays we knew we could make. We knew we had to come out in that fourth set and push it to a fifth, and anything could happen.” 

The Cardinals are looking at their fifth set slip up as more of a learning experience and less of something to frown upon. While L/E/M has displayed consistent success year after year, they are still pretty young as the team has three seniors and five underclassmen. In only game two, Freije said that they are still learning how to play with each other and having the younger players gain more experience. 

“We are a very new team and there’s a lot of getting better and reading everything for the younger players, and just getting used to each other,” Freije said. “A game like this give our younger girls some confidence and show them what we can do. We just got to limit the errors and we’ll be fine.” 

In fact, the Cardinals have historically come out of this game stronger over past years, according to Olson. After losing to Thompson in the beginning of September in 2018, the Cardinals would roll to win 25 straight. 

“We’ve played these guys first or second match of the season for probably 15-20 years, and it’s always a match we can use to get better,” Olson said. “It’s always been a benefit for our program and probably their program as well to play each other early in the season. We’re not in the same region, so we don’t have to get by each other to get to a state tournament. It was a fun match and a fun atmosphere even though there weren’t too many people in the stands.”

As the two teams go their separate ways, knowing they’ll meet again in Langdon in a little less than a month, the Cardinals are focused on moving on. They’re not using the loss as motivation or looking to get back at the Tommies at home. They’re dead set on Rolette/Wolford on Tuesday, and even before that, getting back in gym and cleaning up their own game. 

“We’re not going to really think about getting back at them too much,” Olson said. “We’re just going to work on getting better and hopefully play a cleaner match the next time we see them.” 

Contact Jack Williams with any comments at JGWilliams1@gannett.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams

Two L/E/M players block a Thompson shot in a game against the Tommies on Sept. 10 at Thompson High School. The Cardinals lost, 3-2.

Thursday Lake Region volleyball scores

Grand Forks Central - 3 (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) 

Devils Lake - 0 

Leaders: Aces - Kaitlyn Hepper, GFC (4), Kills - Sofia McGee, GFC (11), Blocks - Rachle Dahlen, DL (3), Digs - Ellie Volk, DL (22), Assists - Jenna Frehlich, DL (9) 

No. 3 Thompson - 3 (25-19, 25-17, 15-13) 

No. 1 Langdon/Edmore/ Munich - 2 (25-11, 25-14) 

Leaders: Aces - Cora Badding (9), Kills - Lexi Olson (16), Blocks - Lexi Olson (5), Digs - Lexi Olson (19), Assists - Jaylin Swanson (48) 

North Star - 3 (25-19, 25-15, 25-16) 

Hatton/Northwood - 0 

Barnes County North - 3 

New Rockford-Sheyenne - 1 

Griggs-Midkota - 3 

Nelson County - 0