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Dakota Valley's Elizabeth Lammers, left, and Meredith Lammers celebrate match point Friday night against Belle Fourche in the State A volleyball semifinals at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. The Panthers won in three.

No win is easy in the state volleyball tournament, but the Dakota Valley Panthers make things look that way at times.

Dakota Valley moved into the Class A State Volleyball Tournament title game with a decisive three-set sweep of Belle Fourche Friday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The Broncs hung tough at times, but the Panthers were in control with the 25-15, 25-17 and 25-15 victory. Dakota Valley will face Sioux Falls Christian tonight in the finals, which begin at 6 p.m.

“I think we came out really confident. We kind of hand a little mental breakdown in the second set, but we pushed through and finished hard,” Dakota Valley senior Meredith Lammers said.

Belle Fourche basically led only once – 7-2 in the second set – and the Panthers stayed a couple of steps ahead the Broncs the rest of the way.

“They have a lot of firepower and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Belle Fourche coach Loree Schlichtemeier said. “They are an excellent team and we kind of ran into a buzz saw there.”

Dakota Valley coach Amy Weisman said their scouting of the Broncs in Thursday’s quarterfinal match paid off on Friday.

“We took game film of them and we watched it and talked about it. We kind of knew their tendencies based on what they did last night,” Weisman said. “We set up a game plan and the girls did a good job of executing the game plan.”

Schlichtemeier said the starts of each set are important in this type of atmosphere, and two out of the three times they did not do what they needed to do to stay in the game.

“You want to get that good start, and when you don’t, you kind of get rattled a little bit,” she said. “Good teams do that to you. They should have a fantastic match with Sioux Falls Christian.”

In these situations where it is loud, Lammers said it is vital to stay confident and calm.

We tried to stay calm, we were definitely nervous at the beginning of the game,” she said. “You just have that control and having your teammates support you all of the way really helps.”

Weisman said she basically just lets her team get out of their struggles themselves and Friday night in that second game was a prime example.

“One of the refs joked with me (Thursday) night that I wasn’t calling timeouts, but I have confidence in these girls even if they make some mistakes,” Weisman said. “They know what they need to do, so it is very rare that I call a timeout.”

Meredith Lammers finished with a match-high 13 kills, while Elizabeth Lammers added 10 kills. As a team, Dakota Valley finished with 45 kills. Ally Beresford had 32 assists and Meredith Lammers finished with 15 digs, followed with Alyssa Johnson with 14 digs.

It was a tough night offensively for the Broncs, who finished with just 17 kills in the three sets. On Thursday, Sierra Ward had 34 alone in their five-set win over Sioux Valley. Ward had eight kills and eight digs to lead the way.

For Belle Fourche, 31-4, today is a chance to finish strong in a season where they proved they are among the state’s best teams. They’ll face Madison at 12:30 p.m.

Schlichtemeier said they just have to get refocused today.

“We’re playing for third and fourth place, which I think in the field of teams that are here at the tournament, I think that is an awesome situation to be in,” Schlichtemeier said “We want to go out with a bang and see what happens.”

The Panthers (28-3), meanwhile, will get another crack at top-seed Sioux Falls Christian, a team that handed them two of their three regular season losses.

“It’s going to take everything we have,” Meredith Lammers said. “We’re going to come out hard and they are going to come out hard. It should be a great game. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Weisman said it would be a great time to get their first win against Sioux Falls Christian — in the state title match.

“It is something that we have been anticipating for most of the season, that it would be us and them in the finals,” Weisman said. “It is something that we have been practicing for. As it turns out, I would like to come into it losing to them two times. Being the underdog we have everything to gain and they have everything to lose.”

SIOUX FALLS CHRISTIAN 3, MADISON 0: Sioux Falls Christian earned its way into the Class A state championship game with a three set sweep over Madison.

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The Chargers took the first set 25-20, won the second 25-16 and sealed the win with a 25-19 third set victory.

Ellie Voss led the way for the Chargers with 16 kills, Kylee Van Egdom added 10 kills and Samantha Fykstra finished with 37 assists.

Shania Schwebach paced the Bulldogs with 16 assists.

MCCOOK CENTRAL/MONTROSE 3, MILLER 1: Despite dropping the first set, McCook Central/Montrose bounced back to win the next three in a victory over Miller.

It wasn’t a great start for the Fighting Cougars as they opened the match with a 25-18 loss. Fortunately, they wouldn’t be affected by the bad start as they went on to win the next three sets 25-19, 25-21 and 25-17.

McKenna Kranz led McCook Central with 16 kills, followed by Morgan Koepsell as she chipped in with 13. Emily Bies paced the team in assists with 25, while Harley Miles had 28 digs.

The Rustlers were led by Kadye Fernholz who had 15 kills, and Rachel Oligmueller’s 33 assists.

The Cougars advance to the fifth place match and take on Sioux Valley at 10:45 a.m., while Miller plays Parker for seventh place at 9 a.m.

SIOUX VALLEY 3, PARKER 2: Led by some big offensive performances, Sioux Valley overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat Parker in the consolation semifinals of the Class A tournament.

The Cossacks jumped out to an early lead with a 25-22 win, before the Pheasants took the next two sets 25-20 and 25-23.

Sioux Valley won the fourth set 25-15, and closed out the match with a 15-10 fifth set victory

Nikole Ziegler led the Cossacks with 24 kills, Lynsey Stevens added 20 kills and Rachel Miller finished with 57 assists.

Hannah Viet paced Parker with 21 kills, Grace Leberman chipped in with 18 kills and Hannah Even paced led the team with 49 assists.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.