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MCM claims fifth place in Class A volleyball

McCook Central/Montrose's McKenna Kranz celebrates a kill during the Class A state volleyball fifth-place match Saturday against Sioux Valley at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

RAPID CITY—As the No. 8 seed in the Class A volleyball bracket, McCook Central/Montrose was an underdog in the state tournament.

And the Fighting Cougars blew expectations out of the water by finishing in fifth place in Class A, defeating Sioux Valley in four sets to cap a successful state tournament for the Fighting Cougars at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. Set scores were 27-25, 25-17, 15-25 and 25-22.

"We were just happy to be here," MCM coach Tami Bies said. "And for us to come out and play as well as we did and get two wins and finish fifth, I'm ecstatic."

MCM (21-9) turned the consolation championship match in its favor in the first set, as the Cossacks led by as many as seven points. Sioux Valley had three set-point chances but back-to-back Aleah Ries kills, followed by a kill from Morgan Koepsell to put MCM ahead 25-24. Sioux Valley evened the score on the next point but Koepsell and McKenna Kranz teamed up for the next two kills to give MCM the 27-25 set win.

That set the tone for the second set, with MCM cruising to an eight-point set win before the Cossacks came alive in the third set, finishing on a 10-2 run to trim the match lead to 2-1.

The Fighting Cougars in all of set four but allowed matters to become complicated late. A seven-point lead at 24-17 was trimmed to 24-22 but a Koepsell kill—her 15th of the match—clinched the victory for MCM.

"It's really special and I'm excited for this group," the 6-foot-1 senior Koepsell said. "I think we showed you can't underestimate anyone."

Kranz had 14 kills, three aces and 12 digs. Ries and Jacy Pulse each had 10 kills for the Fighting Cougars, who graduate six seniors. Ries had 19 digs in the match.

"We've been working towards being as balanced as we can and think we saw that today," Bies said. "This group really played well together in this tournament."

Sioux Valley (26-6) had 12 kills each from Lynsey Stevens and Nikole Ziegler in the loss. It was MCM's second win in three meetings this season with the Big East Conference rival Cossacks.

Sioux Valley (25-6) 25 17 25 22

MCM (21-9) 27 25 15 25

Sioux Valley (kills-aces-blocks): Bryn Tvedt 4-0-0 Lynsey Stevens 12-1-1 Bethany Rennich 1-0-1 Nikole Ziegler 12-0-0 Rachel Miller 2-0-3 Miakken Vincent 1-1-2 Totals 32-1-4

McCook Central/Montrose: Harley Miles 0-0-0 Hayley Miles 0-2-0 Jacy Pulse 10-2-3 McKenna Kranz 14-3-3 Morgan Erikson 4-0-1 Cassy Knudsen 0-0-0 Aleah Ries 10-0-0 Emily Bies 0-0-0 Natalie Gottlob 0-0-0 Leslie Kolbeck 2-0-0 Anna Heinz 1-0-0 Morgan Koepsell 15-0-3 Abigail Van Ruler 0-0-0 Totals 56-7-8

Set assists: SV 30 (Miller 28), MCM 51 (Bies 28, Hayley Miles 22). Digs: SV 81 (Ziegler 26, Miller 14, Tvedt 13, Stevens 11), MCM 72 (Harley Miles 19, Ries 19, Kranz 12).