In 2007 Rapid City Stevens won the volleyball state championship. Ten years later, the Raiders will have the chance to do the same thing tonight.
In a hard-fought match with No. 7 seed Sioux Falls Washington, No. 3 seed Stevens prevailed in the five sets 26-24, 22-25, 16-25, 25-19 and 16-14 in the Class AA semifinals.
Tonight at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Stevens will play No. 1 seed Harrisburg for the state title at 8 p.m.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Stevens coach Kylie Voorhees said right after the emotional win. "We mixed it up a lot, we mixed up our offense, our middles came alive at key times. Our serving game was so strong, we took them out of their offense."
Washington came in as a big underdog, but after topping No. 2 seed Mitchell in five sets Thursday night, the Warriors pushed Stevens to the edge. With the score 14-12, Washington had match point in the fifth set but Stevens was able to come back for the win.
"I'm obviously super proud of them. They put in a lot of hard work throughout the season and in the offseason, they're a great group of girls," Washington coach Kelly Schroeder said. "We just had too many errors, we didn't take care of the ball as well as we should have and Stevens capitalized on it."
Washington will now face No. 5 seed Watertown in the third/fourth place game. It's not a place Schroeder thought his team could be when Friday started, but he said the Warriors still have a lot to play for.
"It's going to be tough, but the biggest thing is you don't want to end the season on a loss, you especially don't want to go 1-2 here," he said. "We'll do the best we can, come back and battle against Watertown.
The match was as close as any match the tournament has seen so far. The first two sets went back and forth and didn't seen like either team could pull away from the other, with Stevens taking the first and Washington taking the second.
The Warriors were able to put some distance between them and the Raiders in the third set, going on a 10-5 run to make a 10-7 lead a 20-12 lead, before closing out the set on a 5-4 run.
Stevens showed mental toughness in the fourth set, as it did the exact same thing to Washington. It jumped out to an early lead that soon became 20-13, before ending the Warriors hopes for a four set win.
Voorhees said, like in the quarterfinal match against Huron, she had to make adjustments between the third and fourth set and they seemed to work.
The fifth set was emotional, as again it turned into a see-saw battle, with Stevens going up 5-3 and 10-7 before Washington stormed back to take a 11-10 lead that would become 14-12.
After that, Stevens put up four straight points, and secured its date with Harrisburg for the top prize in the state.
The two teams haven't played each other this season and the Tigers are the defending state champs, but Voorhees said she is confident that won't hinder the Raiders, partly because of how good Stevens was feeling after the win.
"Right now they have huge confidence. They're not afraid, they're not nervous to play here anymore. Now it's just down to 'let's play volleyball,'" Voorhees said. "We're playing an opponent that we've never played before, we match up very, very well with Harrisburg, so I think it's going to be a fun match."
HARRISBURG 3, WATERTOWN 2: Harrisburg is one step closer to a state title as it dropped Watertown in a Class AA championship semifinal matchup on Friday.
The Tigers kicked off the match with a 25-11 first set win, before the Arrows took the second set 26-24. Harrisburg took back the momentum with another 25-11 win in the third set, but Watertown stormed back to win the fourth 15-12.
The Tigers took control of the fourth set to seal the 15-12 victory.
Madison Wassink paced Harrisburg with 17 kills; Meghan Krull added 12 kills and Avery Thorson finished with 40 assists.
Annie Norberg led the Arrows with 17 assists and McKenzie Buisker finished with nine kills.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL 3, SIOUX FALLS O’GORMAN 0: Aberdeen Central bounced back from an opening round loss to cruise past Sioux Falls O’Gorman in the consolation semifinals.
The Golden Eagles punched their ticket to the next round with a 25-19, 26-24 and 25-15 sweep.
Brooklyn Kusler and Cassidy Gough led the way for Aberdeen Central with 11 kills apiece, while Haylee Mork finished with 35 assists.
The Lady Knights were paced by Emma Ronsiek’s 11 kills and McKenzie Hermanson’s 12 assists.
Aberdeen Central will play Huron for the consolation championship today at 10:45 a.m., while O’Gorman takes on Mitchell for seventh at 9 a.m.
HURON 3, MITCHELL 1: Huron earned its way into the Class AA consolation title game with a four set victory over Mitchell.
The Tigers opened the match with a 25-22 win in the first set, before the Kernals bounced back to take the second set 25-22. Huron regained the momentum for good, as it closed out the match with 25-15 and 25-20 wins in the third and fourth sets.
Jayda Shillingstad led for the Tigers with 28 assists, followed by Kayla Schimke and Hollee Niehus, who had 10 kills apiece.
Mackenzie Miller paced the Kernals with 15 kills, while Chelsea Brewster and Carly Haring chipped in with 12 apiece. Mandy Schmidt led her squad in assists with 37.