The Washington Warriors were able to contain Yankton's Mikala Hora just enough Tuesday night at the Washington gym to clinch a spot in the state tournament.
The Warriors were tested early by Yankton, but they held on 25-22, 21-25, 25-17 and 25-18 en route to winning the District 2AA tournament,
Yankton hosts Watertown on Friday night for a chance to advance to the state tournament.
Hora's kills and kill attempts came at a frantic pace to open the match, but the Warriors were able to dig in and make defensive plays to pull out the victory. Emma Hanson led Washington with 17 digs, and Lexi Bordeaux added 15.
Hora, a two-time first team all-state selection and SDSU recruit, was the class of the court against the Warriors in Games 1 and 2. She led the Gazelles with 22 kills. For as much power as Hora brings to the court, her finesse and ball placement are just as impressive.
But Washington made adjustments after Yankton tied the match at 1-1, and Hora wasn't nearly as effective for the remainder of the match.
"We served a lot more aggressively," Washington coach LaDawn Nesje said of containing Hora in Games 3 and 4. "If you can serve aggressively and get them out of their system, you're going to be a lot better off. She's their number one choice every time, so if you serve it at her, or to the opposite side of her, they can't feed her as well."
Yankton held a six-point lead in Game 1 before losing the game, and for the most part, dominated Game 2 by building a seven-point lead.
However, the Warriors set the tone for the remainder of the match in Game 3, scoring the first four points of the game and opening an 11-3 lead.
Although Hora continued her relentless barrage of kills on the Yankton side of the net, Washington's Lexi Bordeaux did her best to match the kill intensity. She finished the night with 16 kills, while Hanson led the Warriors with 24. Many of Bordeaux's kills came at opportune times.
"Lexi Bordeaux had a phenomenal night," Nesje said. "She's really solid, and it's hard to shake her. She's the real deal and tonight was the difference maker."
Washington setter Hannah Nieman also did a nice job of putting the ball in different places and kept it away from Hora in Games 3 and 4. The junior distributed the ball to several Warrior hitters down the stretch.
"She kept blocking us on the outside, and it definitely helps keeping it away from her," Nieman said. "We knew we had to get them to use other people. We served at them more aggressively (after Game 2), and she wasn't able to hit as hard at us."
Despite a dismal Game 3 for the Gazelles, Yankton did not crumble in the decisive Game 4. They were within 18-15 in Game 3 before the Warriors ran off four straight points for a 22-15 lead. Yankton never threatened again, and Hora was not a factor.
"When you give a team a lead like that, it's pretty hard to play out of it," Yankton coach Leasa Woodward said. "We lost our momentum and had a hard time getting it back. Mikala was just gassed because we ask her to do everything."