WATERTOWN — Hill City nearly forced a decisive set, but came up just short.
An initial call that would’ve given the No. 2 Rangers set point was overturned, and after staving off a match point, they couldn’t save another as a kill attempt by Parker to the back of the court was ruled in, handing the No. 7 Pheasants a 25-21, 25-18, 18-25, 26-24 victory in the first round of the Class A state tournament Thursday at Watertown Civic Arena.
Hailey Wathen led Hill City (25-3) with 19 kills and six blocks, while Dale Schrier tallied 14 kills and Abby Siemonsma added four kills and a pair of aces.
Rangers head coach Lindsy Wathen declined to comment after the game.
Thanks to three kills from Schrier and a pair of blocks by Wathen, the Rangers jumped out to a 7-4 advantage in the opening sets and held onto to the lead until a successful block and a kill by the Pheasants on consecutive points put them at a 18-17 deficit. Tied 18-18, Parker grabbed four points in a row, and two more kills helped the squad close out the first 25-21.
Schrier earned her team’s first three points of the second set as Hill City took an quick 6-2 lead, and a kill and a solo block by Wathen on back-to-back points helped build a 9-5 advantage, but Parker came roaring back by collecting five straight points and eight of the next nine to pull ahead 13-10. After a service error and double hit by the Pheasants, Wathen tallied consecutive kills to turn to lead back over to the Rangers before Parker seized the next five points and went on to win the set 25-18 for a two-sets-to-none advantage.
Hill City didn’t go away, however, and after going 11-7 in the third, took six of the next eight points to pull even at 13-13. After a Parker kill attempt sailed wide to give the Rangers the lead, Wathen tacked on two more points with a solo block and a kill.
Clinging to an 18-16 lead, Hill City grabbed the next five points before losing two straight, which Wathen followed with a kill to bring up set point, which the Rangers converted to win the third set 25-18 and avoid a straight-sets loss.
The Rangers hung tough in the fourth, building an 11-6 advantage before the Pheasants drove back again and evened the set at 13-apiece. Hill City then got points from four different players, including an ace by Addisen Barber that crashed into the net and curled over into enemy territory, to make it 18-14.
Down 21-18 later in the set, Parker strung together four consecutive points to pull even once again at 22-22. A solo block by Wathen was followed by a kill attempt by the Pheasants that landed out of bounds, seemingly giving the Rangers set point for a chance at going to a fifth and final set, but an official ruled the ball made contact with a Hill City played before traveling out of bounds, awarding the point to Parker instead to make it 23-23.
After the Pheasants picked up a match point up 24-23, Wathen earned her final kill of the evening to keep the contest alive. But a kill by Parker brought up its second match point, and a final kill attempt by the Pheasants that hit the back of the court was ruled in, while Hill City players thought differently, which ended the match.
The Rangers face rival Rapid City Christian Friday at 1 p.m. (Mountain) in the consolation bracket, while Parker will play No. 6 Dakota Valley in the semifinals at 6 p.m.
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