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Thompson repeats, heads back to state tournament

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Patriots libero Ellie Bergstrom yells to celebrate a May-Port-CG point Thursday night against Thompson during the N.D. Region 2 volleyball championship at the Hillsboro Events Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald2 / 5
Thompson's Ashlyn Warcken (8) celebrates a point over May-Port-CG in the third set of Thursday's N.D. Region 2 volleyball championship match in Hillsboro, N.D. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald3 / 5
Thompson Tommies fans cheer following their team's victory over May-Port-CG in the N.D. Region 2 Volleyball tournament championship match on Thursday night at the Hillsboro Events Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald4 / 5
Thompson's Mackenzie Hughes (9) and Taylor Zak (12) jump to block a spike by May-Port-CG middle hitter Hanna McIntyre in the second set of Thursday's N.D. Region 2 volleyball championship match at the Hillsboro Events Center. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald5 / 5

HILLSBORO, N.D.—As has happened frequently this season, Thompson got off to a slow start on the volleyball court Thursday.

"We do that more often than I'd like, more often than not,'' Thompson High School volleyball coach Lisa Strand said. "We get down and have to claw our way back.''

If slow starts have been a trait, so have strong finishes.

True to form, the Tommies swept Mayville-Portland-C-G 3-0 in the championship match of the Region 2 tournament. Thompson won 25-18, 25-6, 25-18 to repeat as region champ and takes a 36-1-1 record to next week's Class B state tournament in Minot.

The Patriots used eight kills and two service aces to take a narrow 17-15 lead in the first set. But Thompson closed out on a 10-1 run, with Lauren Cunningham serving an 8-0 spurt.

The Tommies then dominated the second set.

"We never really get used to it,'' Thompson defensive specialist Ashlyn Warcken said of the slow starts. "When other teams are scoring more points, we get a little frustrated. We just have to take a deep breath.

"We were a little nervous tonight. But once we got focused, we really played well.''

From the spurt to close the opening set and the second set, Thompson had a combined 35-7 run.

Strand couldn't narrow the turnaround to one or two things. "We did a nice job of serving,'' Strand said. "Our passing got better. The sets were a little crisper. And our hitters made something happen.

"We got a couple of kills to get it going and the kids seemed to feed off that.''

The second set included a 3-0 run to open it, a 6-0 run and a 10-0 run served by Izzy Shirek.

"You can't have long streaks like that,'' Patriots coach Stacy Hanson said. "That's been the story of our season, letting too many long streaks.

"We lost some confidence at the end of the first set. And our serve receive broke down a little.''

The Patriots bounced back to a 10-6 lead in the third set, but Thompson went ahead to stay with a 9-1 spurt and closed the match with four unanswered points, the final two on Macy Jordheim kills.

Taylor Zak had nine kills and two blocks, while Jordheim had nine kills and 1.5 blocks to lead Thompson at the net. Mackenzie Hughes had a match-high 18 assists and Cunningham a match-high 21 digs.

The offense of the 20-14-0 Patriots was led by Madisen Knudsvig with six kills and Julia Kohls with five. Cora McClenahen has 12 assists.

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