Alm only non-Sioux Falls player on Class AA first-team
By Justin Wulf
Of the seven girls chosen for the Class AA all-state volleyball first team, five are going on to play at the Division I level.
One of those seven is Mitchell senior outside hitter Taylin Alm. Alm, who will move on to play at Pepperdine next year, was the lone non-Sioux Falls representative after recording 457 kills, 203 digs, 30 blocks and 60 aces in her final year with the Kernels.
“Coaches respect what she can do and how talented of a player she is,” Mitchell head volleyball coach Deb Thill said. “She’s worked very hard at becoming a very good player. She’s very humble and is grateful for the opportunities she’s been given.”
Alm finished her career with 1,160 kills and is the only Mitchell volleyball player to cross the 1,000-kill mark.
“Obviously, you’re going to miss somebody who has over 1,000 kills,” Thill said. “She was a large factor in everything that we did.”
The Kernels missed out on the state tournament, falling in districts and ending with a 9-13 record.
Besides Alm, the six other first-team selections are from Sioux Falls, which sent three teams to the state tournament, including the last two standing for the title.
Each of the four city schools were represented at positions all around the court with Roosevelt’s lethal duo of Maggie DeJong and Tagyn Larson highlighting the list selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association. DeJong and Alm were named to the first team for the second year.
DeJong, who will move on to Louisville next season, proved to be the most difficult hitter to slow down as she led ‘AA’ hitters with 528 kills and a .416 hitting percentage. She also had 223 digs and 129 blocks to round out an impressive senior campaign.
Larson, an Iowa basketball recruit, added 315 kills, 193 digs and 62 blocks despite playing the final stretch of the season with a stress fracture in her foot that will sideline her for the beginning of the basketball season.
The tandem caused headaches for opponents both offensively and defensively all season as the Rough Riders cruised past teams not named O’Gorman.
“Tagyn is so athletic. She’s able to see the court very well and jumps high,” said Roosevelt coach Holly Lynch. “The same goes for Maggie. They’re both so versatile.”
While DeJong and Larson were the most dangerous combination in the state, it was the play of O’Gorman outside hitter Taryn Kloth that earned the Knights their first state championship since 2002.
The Creighton recruit stepped on the biggest stage with 55 kills over the three-day tournament, guiding O’Gorman to a trio of sweeps while finishing the season with 311 kills and a .360 hitting percentage. The 6-3 junior was also solid defensively, tallying 167 digs and 31 blocks.
“She’s just an amazing player,” said O’Gorman coach Julie Kolbeck. “With her height and her physical ability, it’s amazing some of the things she’s able to do. Then to add the mental aspect and the knowledge that she brings to the game, she really is the complete package.”
The only non-hitters on the first team belonged to Washington, which put together a solid season despite graduating its top two hitters from a year ago.
Senior libero Ellie Benson, who will walk on at South Dakota State next fall, paced the Warrior defense with 625 digs, while senior setter Hannah Nieman was an all-around weapon, guiding the offense with 726 assists along with tallying 222 digs, 70 kills and 34 blocks.
Along with Mitchell, Lincoln missed out on the state tournament this season, but its go-to player wasn’t overlooked.
Patriots senior middle hitter Steph Buss, a Cal State-Fullerton recruit earned first team honors with 398 kills and a .413 hitting percentage. She also had 212 digs and 74 blocks.
CLASS AA ALL-STATEVOLLEYBALLFirst teamTaylin Alm, Mitchell, sr, middle hitter: 457 kills, 203 digs, 30 blocks, 60 acesEllie Benson, Washington, sr., libero: 625 digs, 39 assists, 21 acesSteph Buss, Lincoln, sr., middle hitter: 398 kills, 212 digs, 74 blocks, 24 acesMaggie DeJong, Roosevelt, sr., middle hitter: 528 kills, 223 digs, 129 blocks, 21 acesTaryn Kloth, O’Gorman, jr., outside hitter: 311 kills, 167 digs, 31 blocks, 27 acesTagyn Larson, Roosevelt: jr., outside hitter: 315 kills, 193 digs, 62 blocks, 18 aces,Hannah Nieman, Washington, sr., setter: 726 assists, 222 digs, 70 kills, 34 blocks, 23 aces
Second teamHalee Allerdings, Huron, sr., outside hitter: 257 kills, 257 digs, 35 acesAsia King, Huron, sr., middle hitter: 271 kills, 68 digs, 57 blocks, 44 acesBrianna Kusler, Aberdeen Central, so., outside hitter: 274 kills, 187 digs, 42 blocks, 54 acesSkylar Larson, RC Stevens, sr., outside hitter: 301 kills, 421 digs, 39 acesKaitlyn Severyn, Pierre, sr., middle hitter: 301 kills, 228 digs, 67 blocks, 35 acesErinn Temple, Roosevelt, sr., setter: 953 assists, 176 digs, 29 blocksLauren Witte, O’Gorman, sr., outside hitter: 177 kills, 177 digs, 20 blocks, 24 aces