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Century wins third straight Class A volleyball title

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FARGO—Jamie Zastoupil didn't know if a state championship was possible. She had hope that the Bismarck Century volleyball program could have some success, but she didn't know the Patriots were capable of making history.

The West Region top-seeded Patriots withstood several comeback attempts by West Region No. 2-seeded Jamestown and posted a 27-25, 25-18, 26-28, 24-26, 15-10 victory for their third straight North Dakota Class A state volleyball championship Saturday at the Fargodome.

Century becomes just the second program in Class A volleyball history to win three consecutive state championships after Fargo North won three in a row from 1994 to 1996.

"We had to be resilient, we had to be relentless and pursue every ball," Zastoupil said. "We just have to enjoy this one."

Century's Lauren Ware set a Class A state championship record with 27 kills while Megan Anderson added 21 kills, Allison Abel added 34 digs and Katelyn Selensky facilitated the offense with a state-championship record 65 assists for the Patriots (36-8).

"We knew they were going to come out and play as hard as we were," Ware said. "We knew we needed to bring our momentum and our confidence up."

Jamestown's McKayla Kurtz totaled a team-high 15 kills and state senior athlete of the year Megan Gaffaney added 39 assists.

Jamestown head coach Sara Hegerle, fighting back tears, said the Blue Jays (37-6) came out focused but admitted coming back down by two sets was going to be tough to do after doing the same in the semifinals against Mandan Friday night.

"It's not the way we wanted to end it," Hegerle said. "It's tough right now. We'll look back at this in a little while and appreciate the memories that we made."

Century started the first set on a 7-3 lead, but Jamestown came back and the two teams exchanged leads to a 14-14 tie. The Patriots worked up a 24-20 lead, but a Blue Jays time out stole back momentum and they tied the match back at 24-24. The Patriots used a pair of Ware kills to take the first set.

Century jumped to an 11-2 lead in the second set. After Jamestown's second timeout, the Blue Jays replied with an 11-5 run to get within three points. However, the Patriots closed the set on a 7-3 run to take a 2-0 set lead.

Jamestown worked up an 18-14 lead in the third set, but the Patriots came back with an 8-2 run for a 22-20 lead. The Blue Jays responded and tied the match 24-24 and stayed cool to win the set.

Century started the fourth set with a 15-13 lead, but Jamestown scored three unanswered points to take its first lead of the set. Jamestown went on a 6-2 run to take a 23-19 lead, but Century called timeout and came back with a 5-1 run to tie the match again at 24-24.

Jamestown scored twice and ended the set with a Kurtz kill to go to a fifth set.

"We knew we had to come in the fifth set and get a run going," Zastoupil said. "They went after it."

Century cruised to a 10-2 lead in the fifth set, and although the Blue Jays put together an 8-3 run, the Patriots closed the set out on a kill by Ware to clinch the state title.

"It's awesome. I'm speechless," Ware said. "Just the work that we put in during practice and the offseason really paid off."