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Kevin Pottebaum/Republic Wagner's Kim Koupal (1) watches her kill attempt during a high school volleyball match against Mount Vernon/Plankinton on Oct. 8 in Mount Vernon.

Wagner volleyball enters postseason play ranked No. 1

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sports Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

WAGNER -- The No. 1-ranked Wagner volleyball team can be described by one word -- dominant.

In the past four years, the Red Raiders have placed in the top three each year at the state tournament, taking second place last year.

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Wagner also claimed the Class A title two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009.

Head coach Amy Tyler said the volleyball players from Wagner all share one thing.

"They're proud to be Wagner volleyball players," said Tyler, who is in her ninth season as head coach. "They work really hard to perform at the level we expect.

"The girls are well trained at the junior high level, and I think that expectation of being great has been adopted throughout the years."

Tyler said this year's team wasn't expected to do this well after losing last year's seniors.

"We lost a lot of height last year and people thought we were going to have a hard time making that up," said Tyler, whose team finished with a record of 31-4 last season. "We have quicker defense, and my blockers are doing a good job on getting some touches to slow down the opponents' hits to make up for that."

The Red Raiders finished 27-3 during the regular season and defended their Southeast South Dakota Conference title Saturday in Tyndall.

The Red Raiders are led by seniors Jessa Doom, Sydney Breen and Nicole Weber.

"All three of my seniors play big roles," Tyler said. "Jessa runs the offense, Sydney is in charge of the defense and Nicole has been a dominant hitter all year. Those three really have to show up and put it all together for us to be successful, and they do that."

Doom leads the team with 696 set assists and 75 service aces, Breen has a team-high 370 digs and Weber has 278 kills on the year.

Heading into the postseason, Tyler said her team is playing well together but can still improve in some aspects.

"We've gotten this far because the team is really good at accepting their roles and committing to one another in order for our bigger goals to take place," she said. "There are a couple places that we need to fine tune and strive to do better in. Hopefully in the next week of practice with the focus on varsity, we'll be able to focus on those things for the postseason."

Wagner is the team to beat heading into postseason play and hosts Parkston at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a District 10A matchup.

"People show up to play us tough every night because we are No. 1," Tyler said. "There's always that pressure to win and I think the girls have learned to focus on our team. It's a goal of every coach to make it to the state championship and perform well. If they play their hardest every night and play together, things fall into place for them."

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