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Fighting Cougars dictate pace against Cavaliers

SIOUX FALLS--McCook Central/Montrose sped up Aberdeen Roncalli on its way to the championship semifinals of the Class A state volleyball tournament. The Fighting Cougars topped Aberdeen Roncalli in four sets as they advanced to the championship s...

McCook Central/Montrose's Abigail Van Ruler (16) hits over the top of Aberdeen Roncalli's Mariah Winegar and Reagan Reede, bottom, in a match during the first round of the Class A state tournament at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. (Matt Gade / Republic)
McCook Central/Montrose's Abigail Van Ruler (16) hits over the top of Aberdeen Roncalli's Mariah Winegar and Reagan Reede, bottom, in a match during the first round of the Class A state tournament at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-McCook Central/Montrose sped up Aberdeen Roncalli on its way to the championship semifinals of the Class A state volleyball tournament.

The Fighting Cougars topped Aberdeen Roncalli in four sets as they advanced to the championship semifinals at the Premier Center. MCM defeated Roncalli 25-19, 25-17, 26-28 and 25-16.

"We wanted to run a quick offense and that was key for us all year," MCM hitter McKenna Kranz said. "We knew we could get it to work and that's what was key for our game."

It sets up a rematch against Sioux Falls Christian, which defeated MCM in the opening round of last season's state tournament. MCM and Sioux Falls Christian will play at 7:45 p.m. tonight in the championship semifinals.

On Thursday, the Fighting Cougars (23-3) used their fast-paced offense against the smaller Cavaliers. It worked in the first two sets as MCM controlled the pace.

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The scrappy Cavaliers went point-for-point down the stretch in the third set. The set was tied at points 24, 25, 26 and the Cavaliers scored the final two points of the set.

"We played our game in those two sets," MCM coach Tami Bies said. "The third set we kind of letdown and let them kind of take the pace of the game and we didn't like that."

The Fighting Cougars again dictated the pace in the fourth set and they pulled away down the stretch. MCM scored the final four points to advance into the semifinals.

"We were trying to run a faster-paced offense and kind of keep that speed going and they slowed it down, which made us slow it down," Bies said. "I think we just kind of sat back thinking we had the first two won and we thought it would be a little bit easier there, but we had to work hard."

Kranz led MCM with 17 kills, while Abigail Van Ruler finished with 14 kills. Aleah Ries added 12 of MCM's 53 kills. Emily Bies engineered the offense with 49 kills. Jacy Pulse had a match-high 25 digs.

Up next, the Fighting Cougars will face perennial power Sioux Falls Christian, which won last season's state championship. MCM will again look to run a fast offense against the Chargers.

"We are going to have to run a fast offense," coach Bies said. "No, ifs and or buts about it. We are going to have to speed that up. We are going to have to get better at blocking and really figure out where to put our defenders on their hard hits. We also have to be better at serve-receive because they are a great serving team. So we have to really focus and take control of that ball and not let the ball control us."

Related Topics: SALEMMONTROSEVOLLEYBALL
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