Championship match opponents Sioux Falls Christian and Dakota Valley combined to claim four of the six first team selections as the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association announced its Class A All-State Team.
Champion Sioux Falls Christian was represented by Emily Strasser and Ellie Voss, while Dakota Valley was represented by twins Elizabeth and Meredith Lammers. Belle Fourche’s Sierra Ward and Miller’s Kadye Fernholz rounded out the elite list. All but the sophomore Fernholz are seniors.
A key contributor to Belle Fourche’s 25-5 run this season, Ward pounded out 510 kills with a .332 hitting efficiency. She also had 37 ace serves, 24 blocks and 276 digs for the Broncs, who placed fourth in the state tournament.
“Sierra is the perfect example of what hard work can do for someone,” said Belle Fourche head coach Loree Schlichtemeier. “She made her entire team better by her work ethic and presence on the court.”
Ward has also excelled in the classroom, posting a grade-point average of better than 4.0. She hopes to continue her playing career at the next level, but has not decided on a destination, Schlichtemeier noted.
“Sierra has improved by leaps and bounds,” she said. “Even at the end of this season, I didn’t think she had reached her full potential. I think she will continue to get better.”
Strasser and Voss have been key members of the Chargers’ dynasty for four seasons. In their time on varsity, SFC went 125-20 with three state titles and a consolation championship last year. The team lost just five matches to South Dakota opponents during that stretch, including four last year.
Last season’s first-round stumble to eventual state runner-up Madison helped drive the duo, said Chargers head coach Darci Wassenaar.
“Both girls — the whole team, for that matter — had extra push and drive,” she said. “They worked hard all year to be the best they could be.”
Voss was a dominant force up front. The 6-2 middle posted 360 kills at an impressive .415 hitting efficiency, and added 68 blocks and 48 ace serves.
“Ellie is very aggressive,” Wassenaar said of Voss, who has committed to NCAA Division II California Baptist. “She has a quick arm swing, can hit from anywhere on the court and hits from a high point of contact.”
Strasser played a key role in helping get the Charger offense started, posting 233 digs and 57 ace serves on the season. She is currently undecided on a college, but hopes to continue her playing career at the next level.
“Emily is a phenomenal passer,” Wassenaar said of Strasser. “She reads the play well, and makes some amazing plays.”
Elizabeth and Meredith Lammers have been a part of a great run for Dakota Valley, posting a 115-17 record in their four seasons on varsity. The Panthers were state champions in 2016, fourth in 2015 and third in 2014. Of Dakota Valley’s 17 losses in four seasons, 10 were to SFC, and a 2015 loss to Spearfish is the only other setback against a South Dakota opponent.
Both players finished their careers with over 1,000 kills and over 1,000 digs.
“They definitely helped smooth the transition,” said Dakota Valley head coach Amy Wiseman, who was in her first year at the helm of the Panthers. “With those two as leaders, you could throw anything at them. They are both great at ball control and have great aggressiveness, even in defense and serve receive.”
For this season, Meredith Lammers had 312 kills, 254 digs, 36 ace serves and 25 blocks. Elizabeth Lammers had 297 kills, 26 ace serves and 248 digs.
“Meredith was more of a go-to hitter, but they are both great hitters,” Wiseman said. “Elizabeth brought energy and a lot of fun to the team.”
Meredith Lammers has applied to the Naval Academy, and does not plan to play volleyball collegiately. Elizabeth Lammers also does not plan to play collegiately, but may consider it if the right opportunity comes along, according to Wiseman.
The lone underclassmen selected to the first team, Fernholz made her presence known in the middle for the Rustlers, posting 401 kills, 73 blocks and 253 digs. She posted a .396 hitting efficiency for Miller, which finished 26-7 and seventh in the state tournament.
“Kayde is a presence on the floor, not only at the net. She played all the way around for us this year, and ended up second in kills,” Miller head coach Linda DeBoer said of Fernholz. “She has a high volleyball IQ.”
Fernholz will start her junior season with 916 career kills. Before that, she will participate in the AVCA Phenom College Preparatory Program, being held in Kansas City in conjunction with the NCAA Division I Final Four. The event is an invitation-only event for uncommitted seniors on the Under Armour Watch List, as well as uncommitted underclassmen on the AVCA Phenom List.
“I’m excited for her, and for our team,” DeBoer said.
Second team honors went to Kylie Van Egdom of Sioux Falls Christian, Rylie Gall of Redfield-Doland, Olivia Rud of Madison, Faith Tyler of Wagner, Hannah Viet of Parker and Nikole Ziegler of Sioux Valley.
Morgan Koepsell and McKenna Kranz of McCook Central-Montrose, Gia Gengerke of Groton, Jessi Giles of Madison, Rachel Miller of Sioux Valley and Alexis Richey of Winner were honorable mention selections.
Van Egdom, Tyler and Richey, all juniors, were the only underclassmen to earn second team or honorable mention recognition. Miller was the lone setter among the 18 players recognized.