Sioux Falls Christian and Dakota Valley were the top two teams in the Class A volleyball ranks for the entire season.
It showed Saturday night as they met for the state title Saturday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Top seed Sioux Falls Christian just had enough to edge the Panther in five sets, 25-13, 19-25, 19-25, 25-15 and 15-13.
Although the two teams split the first two sets, it was match that both teams dominated at times.
It was only natural that it was decided by just two points in the end.
“It was a great match, and we knew it was going to be,” Sioux Falls Christian coach Darci Wassenaar said. “They are a great team; we’ve had a lot of battles over the years. It was a lot of fun. It was a fun match to play in.”
Volleyball is a game of momentum and both teams had it at different times.
“That game five was point-for-point and both teams were making plays. Our girls were really excited about that last game and played well,” Wassenaar said.
In the fifth set, the biggest lead was the final score. The Chargers never trailed, although Dakota Valley tied things up at 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12. Each time the Panthers had a chance to serve for the lead, but they could not get that crucial point to put them over the top.
Tied at 12-all, Grace Perrenoud gave the Chargers a bit lift with two straight kills to make it 14-12. Dakota Valley stayed alive with a kill to make it a one-point game, but a hitting error by the Panthers ended the set and match, setting off the Chargers celebration.
“It took a lot of guts and it took a lot of believing in ourselves,” Christian senior middle blocker Ellie Voss said. “We knew from the beginning of the season that we were going to have to practice as hard as we could for as game like this; we knew it was going to come down to that because Dakota Valley is a very good team and they are amazing at everything.”
Voss, who had an outstanding match with 22 kills, said they had to match Dakota Valley’s intensity in that crucial fifth set.
“For every one point they would get, we would have to get two and keep building that up until we won,” Voss said.
To make it a five-set battle, the Chargers had to battle back in the fourth set, after Dakota Valley had seemingly taken control by winning sets two and three.
As was the case in the opening set, it was a dominating effort by the Chargers.
“We needed to come back and get that game,” Wassenaar said. “I was really happy with the girls on how they did that.”
It was certainly a disappointing loss for the Panthers, who finished the season at 28-4, with three of those losses coming to Sioux Falls Christian. The third time was not a charm for Dakota Valley.
“It was a battle, and we knew it would be,” Dakota Valley coach Amy Weisman said. “Unfortunately we came out a little slow in game one, and when we had the momentum in game four, we kind of sat back;. We can’t do that against a good team like Sioux Falls Christian.”
Kylee Vanh Egdon also had 17 kills for the Chargers, who finished 31-4 on the season. Setter Samantha Fykstra finished with 50 assists.
“I’m so excited for these girls,” Wassenaar said. ‘We have a great group of seniors and juniors. These seniors have played a lot of volleyball and worked very hard.”
“It is really surreal,” Voss added. “We were just so excited to come out and play as hard as we could, winning just makes it that much better.”
Meredith Lammers had another outstanding match with 17 kills for Dakota Valley, while Nikita Reinschmidt finished with 14 and Elizabeth Lammers added 10. Alyssa Johns had 23 digs and Ally Beresford had 47 set assists.
“We had eight seniors who had an absolutely wonderful year; they are going to leave a gigantic hole for our program,” Wiseman said. “But, we’ll step in and try to fill those holes and come back again next year.”
MADISON 3, BELLE FOURCHE 0: Madison closed out the Class A state tournament with a sweep over Belle Fourche on Saturday.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-0 advantage with a 25-23 win in the first set, followed by as 25-17 victory in the second.
Although the Broncs kept the third set close, Madison won 25-23 to close out the match.
Olivia Rud led the way for the Bulldogs with 12 kills, while Jessi Giles chipped in with 11. Shania Schwebech paced the team in assists with 33.
Sierra Ward finished the match with 14 kills for Belle Fourche, Mandee Williamson added 10 kills and Payson Birkeland finished with 29 assists.
MCCOOK CENTRAL/MONTROSE 3, SIOUX VALLEY 1: Led by a balanced offensive attack, the Fighting Cougars took down Sioux Valley in the fifth place game on Saturday morning.
Despite losing the third set 25-15, McCook Central/Montrose took the first two sets 27-25 and 25-17, before sealing the win with a 25-22 fourth set.
The Fighting Cougars had four players finish with double digit kills, including Morgan Koepsell who led with 15, McKenna Kranz added 14 and Jacy Pulse and Aleah Ries finished with 10 apiece. Emily Bies led the team in assists with 28.
Lynsey Stevens and Niople Ziegler led the way for the Cossacks with 12 kills apiece, while Rachel Miller finished with 28 assists.
MILLER 3, PARKER 2: Despite losing the first set, Miller picked up the hard fought victory in the seventh place game over Parker on Saturday morning.
The Pheasants grabbed the first set 25-17, before the Rustlers won the next two 25-17 and 25-21.
After dropping the fourth set 25-23, Miller won the match with a narrow 16-14 fifth set victory.
Kadye Fernholz led the Rustlers with 26 kills and VonnaGail Schlechter chipped in with 15 kills and Annie Keeter finished with 12. Rachel Oligmueller led the team in assists with 50 and Karly Beckett had 27 digs.
Hannah Viet paced Parker with 22 kills; Raelin Jurgens added 19 kills and Grace Leberman finished with 18.
Hannah Even led the team in assists with 61.