Three area standouts - McCook Central/Montrose's McKenna Kranz, Wagner's Faith Tyler, and Winner's Morgan Hammerbeck - were named to the Class A all-state volleyball team, as selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association.
The three were joined by the team's only repeat first-team selection - Miller's Kadye Fernholz - on the 2018 squad. After Fernholz, a 6-1 junior middle hitter, the first team was decidedly smaller, with only one other player taller than 5-9. The other first-team honorees - seniors Kranz and Tyler, Grace Leberman of Parker, and Kylee Van Egdom of Sioux Falls Christian, and the junior Hammerbeck - all play outside hitter.
Tyler and Van Egdom were second-team picks last season, with Van Egdom also earning honorable mention honors as a sophomore. Kranz was an honorable mention pick last season.
The second team included senior setters Sioux Falls Christian Samantha Fykstra and Elk Point-Jefferson setter Karly Marx, senior liberos Beresford Alana Bergland and Groton Area Payton Maine, junior middle hitter Carlie Corder of Elk Point-Jefferson and junior outside hitter VonnaGail Schlechter of Miller.
The honorable mention list included senior setters Hannah Even of Parker, Leslie Fillipi of Lennox and Erika Langloss of Tri-Valley, senior outside hitters Jami Ewart of Aberdeen Roncalli (RH/OH) and Alex Kandolin of St. Thomas More, and junior middle hitter Caitlyn Pruis of Sioux Falls Christian.
Here is a closer look at the first team:
McKenna Kranz, McCook Central/Montrose - 5-8, senior, outside hitter
Kranz played a key role in the Fighting Cougars' third-place finish, the highest-ever state place for the program. A four-year starter, Kranz posted 249 kills, 37 ace serves, 21 blocks and 337 digs this season.
This season, coach Tami Bies watched Kranz develop from strictly using her athleticism offensively to doing a better job of placement.
"She started out being a power hitter," Bies said. "Her senior year she moved to being smarter in how she hit balls and where she hit it, reading the court."
Bies also saw progress in Kranz's game away from the net.
"As a freshman, even as a sophomore, she didn't think she was a back row player," Bies said of the Dakota State recruit. "She learned to read hitters, get to where they were hitting. She became a very powerful person in the back."
Faith Tyler, Wagner - 5-7, senior, outside hitter
Tyler, a second-team pick a season ago, posted 352 kills, 69 ace serves, 27 blocks and 421 digs in her final season playing for her coach and mother, Amy Tyler. The versatile outside will continue her playing career at Dakota Wesleyan next fall.
"Faith has been a really good leader in all aspects, offense to defense," Coach Tyler said.
Faith Tyler has filled nearly every role in the Red Raider lineup, but has thrived the past two seasons on the outside.
"She's played pretty much everywhere except libero. She's studied the game so long, we could put her anywhere on the court and she'd do a good job," Coach Tyler said. "We moved her to outside her junior year, and she flourished out there as our go-to hitter."
Morgan Hammerbeck, Winner - Jr., 5-11, OH
A three-year starter for the Warriors, Hammerbeck finished with 361 kills, 50 ace serves, 28 blocks and 349 digs in helping Winner to a sixth-place finish at state.
"We knew she would be special, and she keeps improving year after year," said Winner head coach Jaime Keiser. "She led our team in quite a few categories."
While the Warriors do graduate a couple of key players, Keiser is excited to have Hammerbeck back to help lead the team.
"She's an all-around great kid: nice, polite and works her butt off," Keiser said. "She's a competitor, a great leader."
Kadye Fernholz, Miller - 6-1, junior, middle hitter
Fernholz, who was also a second-team pick as a freshman, continued to be a dominant force in the middle for the Rustlers, posting 471 kills and 75 blocks as she helped lead her team to a state runner-up finish.
Fernholz was also a key contributor away from the net, recording 322 digs and 24 ace serves.
"She is so valuable as a six-rotation player because of her high volleyball IQ," said Miller head coach Linda DeBoer. "We are where we are because of her consistency."
DeBoer is excited to watch her big develop for one more year.
"We're excited to see where she goes, how the next year progresses," she said. "It's amazing to have the opportunity to coach a player of the caliber she is."
Kylee Van Egdom, Sioux Falls Christian - 5-9, senior, outside hitter/middle
Van Egdom proved herself as an all-around weapon, recording 460 kills, 100 ace serves, 42 blocks and 261 digs as she helped lead the Chargers' title defense. It was Sioux Falls Christian's seventh title since 2010 and eighth overall.
"She jumps well, has an aggressive arm swing and sees the court really well," Chargers head coach Darci Wassenaar said of the Northern State recruit. "She's a great all-around athlete and does a great job of leading our team."
Van Egdom also makes the tough work of back row play "look easy," according to Wassenaar.
"As soon as she rotates to the back, she has an aggressive serve and plays phenomenal defense," the Chargers coach said. "We have her in every serve receive."
Grace Leberman, Parker - 5-7, senior, outside hitter
Leberman, who began her career as a back row player, thrived in the transition to a six-rotation player, recording 349 kills, 25 ace serves, 43 blocks and 427 digs in helping the Pheasants to a consolation title this season.
"Grace has blossomed the last couple of years," said Parker head coach Jill Christensen. "She's just as valuable in the front row as she is as a passer."
Besides athleticism, Leberman brought a level head to the court, according to Christensen.
"The moment wasn't too big for Grace," she said. "She is good at reading hitters, good about finding holes on the court."
Class A all-state team
As selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association
Kadye Fernholz, Miller - Jr., 6-1, MH; 471 kills, 24 ace serves, 75 blocks, 322 digs
Morgan Hammerbeck, Winner - Jr., 5-11, OH; 361 kills, 50 ace serves, 28 blocks, 349 digs
McKenna Kranz, McCook Central/Montrose - Sr., 5-8, OH; 249 kills, 37 ace serves, 21 blocks, 337 digs
Grace Leberman, Parker - Sr., 5-7, OH; 349 kills, 25 ace serves, 43 blocks, 427 digs
Faith Tyler, Wagner - Sr., 5-7, OH; 352 kills, 69 ace serves, 27 blocks, 421 digs
Kylee Van Egdom, Sioux Falls Christian - Sr., 5-9, OH/Middle Back; 460 kills, 100 ace serves, 42 blocks, 261 digs
Alana Bergland, Beresford - Sr., 5-6, L; 46 ace serves; 594 digs
Carlie Corder, Elk Point-Jefferson - Jr., 6-0, MH; 306 kills, 31 ace serves, 71 blocks, 70 digs
Samantha Fykstra, Sioux Falls Christian - Sr., 5-7, S; 23 ace serves, 687 assists, 87 digs
Payton Maine, Groton Area - Sr., 5-7, L; 37 ace serves, 552 digs
Karly Marx, Elk Point-Jefferson - Sr., 5-6, S; 116 kills, 33 ace serves, 841 assists, 31 blocks, 330 digs
VonnaGail Schlechter, Miller - Jr., 5-7, OH; 251 kills, 18 ace serves, 287 digs
Hannah Even, Parker - Sr., 5-4, S; 971 assists, 23 blocks, 250 digs
Jami Ewart, Aberdeen Roncalli - Sr., 5-9, RH/OH; 169 kills, 47 ace serves, 33 blocks, 305 digs
Leslie Fillipi, Lennox - Sr., 5-9, S; 113 kills, 65 ace serves, 688 assists, 230 digs
Alex Kandolin, St. Thomas More - Sr., 5-9, OH; 373 kills, 35 ace serves, 31 blocks, 225 digs
Erika Langloss, Tri-Valley - Sr., 5-7, S; 82 kills, 43 ace serves, 393 assists, 181 digs
Caitlyn Pruis, Sioux Falls Christian - Jr., 5-9, MH; 146 kills, 35 ace serves, 57 blocks, 75 digs
Sophia VandenBosch, Madison - So., 5-8, OH; 276 kills, 46 ace serves, 341 digs