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The Spearfish High School varsity volleyball team faces a tough task in the Class AA SoDak 16 on Thursday.

The Spartans, the No. 15 seed, visit second-seed Sioux Falls Washington. The Warriors defeated Spearfish 25-13, 25-15 in the Huron Tournament Aug. 25.

"Washington has a 6-foot, 6-inch girl (Sydni Schetnan), a 6-4 girl (Phekran Kong) and a couple of 6-1 girls," said Spearfish coach Jayna Morrill.

"We're not a tall team. We focus on our blocking. We had a great practice Monday, focusing on blocking. On offense, our hitters will have to hit around a solid block," Morrill said.

Spearfish finished in third place (7-2) in the Black Hills Conference with wins over Custer, Hot Springs, Red Cloud, Sturgis Brown, Lead-Deadwood, Douglas and Belle Fourche and losses to St. Thomas More and Hill City.

"Our season had a lot of ups and downs with more ups than downs,"said Morrill. "I thought we played well in the Black Hills Conference. Many victories were important to us. We learned from every game.

"We played great against Rapid City Central. Belle Fourche is always a good game," she said.

Seven seniors, who have all played volleyball since seventh grade, form the nucleus of the team.

Kennedy Kaitfors, an outside hitter, is a three-year varsity team member.

"My role is to lead the girls and keep them inspired," said Kaitfors. "They talk to me and I tell them what they can do to improve. We're not a team anymore. We're a family."

Mikayla Tracy, outside hitter, Kyla Jarvis, middle hitter, Olivia Hofmann, middle hitter, and Jenna Geist, setter, are each competing in their second season on varsity.

"I'm kind of like an energy lift and make sure everybody stays positive," said Tracy.

"I'm one of the senior leaders as a captain," said Jarvis. "We got off to rough start to the season, but are doing good now."

"I try to make the team be more upbeat and keep a positive attitude," said Hofmann. I feel we've gotten better since the start of the season.

"My role is to get the team set up offensively," said Geist. "I like volleyball because it's a team sport and the competitiveness of it."

Savanna Sewell, defensive specialist, and Sydney Spraitz, right-side hitter, are each playing in their initial season on the Spartans' varsity.

"I feel like I'm one of the leaders of the team," said Sewell.

"I like the competitiveness of the game and try to keep my teammates motivated with a positive attitude," said Spraitz. "

"There's not enough I can say about our seniors," said Morrill, "Their amount of leadership is great. The girls get the larger picture. "It's not what they see today. It's what they remember tomorrow."

If Spearfish wins, they'll return to Sioux Falls for the State AA tournament Nov. 15-17 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.

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