BISMARCK — Slow starts are nothing new for the top-seed Salt Fork Storm volleyball team.
But when sophomore outside hitter Jenny Kimbro appeared to injure her left knee during the first set, Salt Fork needed someone to step up.
Junior Britton Seaman answered the challenge, recorded eight of her game-high 10 kills during the second set as the Storm defeated the Oakwood Comets 25-14, 25-19 in an IHSA Class 2A regional semifinal match at Bismarck-Henning High School.
"It was tough,'' Seaman admitted. "I got down a little bit. It was hard to get myself back up, but at the end, I think I did it.
"I knew I had to try to pick up the intensity and help get the team up.''
At the end, the Storm (25-6) just kept feeding Seaman the ball as she recorded the game's final four kills to seal the victory.
"It scared me when (Kimbro) got hurt, because she is a big part of our offense,'' said Bowman, who is hopeful that Kimbro will be healthy for Thursday's regional championship match. "We challenged Seaman. She didn't feel like she played really well early in that match. I told her during that last time, 'Jenny is out. I need you to step up and be the player out here.'
"She did that on those last four points''
Oakwood (8-19) had leads in both sets, but the Comets were outscored 12-0 in the first set and 10-3 in the second set.
"That's been the story of our season,'' said Oakwood coach Lynn Anderson. "I don't know why, exactly. It could be that we get ahead, and they let up a little. And, we are a team that can't let up any.
"Basically, it could be so many different things. Ultimately, we just couldn't finish things out when it was needed.''
And while the Comets had issues with finishing matches, getting off a slow start has been something that the Storm has been dealing with all season.
"We seem to fall behind a lot,'' Bowman said. "One of the things that we try to stress to the girls is not to give up big runs. This game is such a game of momentum that if you give up a big run, it's hard to come back.
"If we start a little slow, like we did tonight, but stay within one or two points — we can come back.''
In the first set, it was Kimbro sparking the big closing run for the Storm. She had four of her first-set seven kills during Salt Fork's 12-0 run, but it was also during that run that she injured her left knee.
"Jenny is a tough matchup for any team because she jumps so high,'' Bowman said. "It's tough to get a good block on her, because she is typically above everyone else.''
Senior Lea Hall finished with six kills, while senior Allie Trosper had a match-high 24 assists for the Storm, who advanced to Thursday's regional championship match.
Salt Fork will face the host Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils, a 25-22, 25-15 winner over Westville, in the 6 p.m. championship match at Bismarck-Henning.
"Hopefully, we come ready to play and we do well,'' Seaman said. "We going to need a good day of practice to get ready for Bismarck-Henning.''
The Storm has won both meetings with the Blue Devils this season. Salt Fork defeated Bismarck-Henning 25-17, 25-22 in the Vermilion County Tournament and on Oct. 22, Salt Fork beat Bismarck-Henning, 25-18, 16-25, 25-23.