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Athlete of the week: Gustafson's consistency leads Rustlers to 15th win

ETHAN — Ethan volleyball coach Sigourney Schaffer looks to Darbi Gustafson when her team needs a kill.

“I expect her to always be the most consistent,” the fourth-year coach said. “In clutch time, I always say feed the ball to Darbi because she’s smart with the ball and has a lot of power.”

The junior middle hitter led her team to two 3-0 victories over Bridgewater-Emery and Freeman last week.

She tallied a team-high 12 kills and three blocks in the victory over the Huskies. Gustafson led all players in Thursday’s match against the Flyers with 14 kills and 14 digs.

“Over the years, things have started clicking for me and hard work has paid off,” Gustafson said. “I’ve worked on my defense and am more patient when I get sets.”

For her efforts, Gustafson has been named The Daily Republic’s athlete of the week, an award voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff.

“She’s one of those athletes that anyone would want,” Schaffer said, adding Gustafson was moved to middle hitter recently. “She can fill any role we need. She’s taken her role and run with it and has done an outstanding job in what we’ve needed her to do.”

Schaffer, who didn’t have season stats available, said Gustafson has recorded double-digit kill numbers in every match so far this season and is one of the team’s top defensive players as well.

“She was the MVP last year as a sophomore and is providing consistency this season, too,” she said.

The Rustlers (15-4) have won five straight matches and are in second place in District 8B with five games left in the regular season. Hanson is in the district’s top spot with a 15-1 record.

“I think we’re doing pretty well as a team,” Gustafson said. “I’m really proud of how we’ve been doing. We’ve come from behind quite a bit. We don’t get down on ourselves when we’re losing and we’ve fought back to win.”

Ethan plays two matches this week, traveling to Wessington Springs today and Canistota Thursday.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.