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With playoff volleyball right around the corner, Rapid City Christian and Kadoka Area played with postseason urgency before the Comets were able to pull away from the Kougars to win 25-17, 24-26, 26-24, 25-10 on Monday.

The match was the season finale for Kadoka Area, which likely goes into the Region 7B playoffs as the No. 1. Christian closes the regular season tonight at Hot Springs with a match against the Bison.

The Comets are on a roll with the Region 8A playoffs starting next Tuesday, winning for the sixth time in seven matches.

“Kadoka has a great team,” Christian head coach Elizabeth Kieffer said. “I felt like our hitters were trying to execute and get to different parts of the net. Our setter did a great job giving them opportunities.”

The Comets, playing without fifth-year libero Reilly Freeland and outside hitter Rebecca Morgan, got a steady night from Abbie Goff, a junior setter who got the ball onto the hand of her teammates all night long.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity the last couple weeks,” Kieffer said. “We just feel incredibly blessed that God has given us the opportunity to keep playing.”

Kadoka Area, which has now dropped four of its last six matches, is looking for answers with the region playoffs starting next Tuesday.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Kougars coach Barry Hutchinson said. “It seems like after the Douglas tournament, we made the finals but we slipped a little bit and started struggling. We have to put this all behind us and get back to the way we were playing.”

A quick start pushed Christian out to an 18-6 lead in the opening set. Kadoka Area found its rhythm in the late going, pulling within 24-17 behind a service ace from Jade Hutchinson and a Comet hitting error before Christian closed out the set on a kill by Tori Altstiel.

The Kougars turned the table on Christian in the second set, jumping out to an 8-2 lead, then battling the Comets point for point the rest of the set.

Christian led 19-16 at one point, but Kadoka battled back to take a 24-23 lead on kills by Hutchinson. Kougar senior Lavin Bendt closed the set at 26-24 with a tip winner and a kill from the middle hitter spot.

The Comets got out to a 10-6 lead in the third, but the Kougars fought back to tie the set at 11. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the way. Olivia Kieffer came up with a kill and Altstiel closed the set at 26-24 with a block, pushing Christian to a 2-1 set advantage.

Serving was the story of the final set. Kieffer, a ninth-grade outside hitter, worked the back-right corner of the court with a knuckling service ball. She had six aces during a 10-point run that broke open the final set, turning a 7-4 Comet lead into a 17-4 advantage.

“We’re just not used to seeing those types of serves,” Coach Hutchinson said. “That rattled us, and we just couldn’t recover.”

The win improves Rapid City Christian to 27-7 heading into tonight’s finale against Hot Springs.

Kadoka Area drops to 27-6 heading into the Class B playoffs next week.

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