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Fighting Cougars, Red Raiders enter postseason on win streaks

WAGNER -- Riding a nine-game winning streak, the Wagner volleyball team is ready for the postseason. The Red Raiders (23-7) will be the No. 3 seed in the Region 5A tournament, which gets underway on Tuesday. Wagner will host Platte-Geddes in an e...

Wagner's Sierra Juffer sets the ball during a prep volleyball match against Avon earlier this year in Avon. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Wagner's Sierra Juffer sets the ball during a prep volleyball match against Avon earlier this year in Avon. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

WAGNER - Riding a nine-game winning streak, the Wagner volleyball team is ready for the postseason.

The Red Raiders (23-7) will be the No. 3 seed in the Region 5A tournament, which gets underway on Tuesday. Wagner will host Platte-Geddes in an elimination game at 7 p.m. and head coach Amy Tyler said her team is entering the postseason with plenty of confidence.

"The girls have been working really hard. They've been good teammates and I think that's been the key to our success," Tyler said. "The girls are putting forward positive energy and plenty of effort."

Since dropping a four-set match at Parkston on Oct. 10, Wagner has earned five wins against teams with winning records, including back-to-back win over Burke/South Central. Wagner edged the Cougars, who will be the top seed in Region 6B, in five sets. Tyler said playing close matches against top teams should benefit her team in the region tournament.

"We're really working on our first contact and working on our ball handling," Tyler said. "I like playing those tough teams because it shows the aspects of the game we need to work on."

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Wagner will have to get past the Black Panthers on Tuesday and then face either McCook Central/Montrose or Bon Homme for a Sweet 16 spot on Thursday.

This season, Wagner has beat Platte-Geddes three times (Sept. 5, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21), Bon Homme once (Sept. 19) and MCM once (Aug. 26).

Outside hitters Faith Tyler, Abby Brunsing and Maesa Dvorak lead the Red Raider offense along with setter Sierra Juffer, while Schylar Juffer and Carolyn Blaha have led Wagner's defense.

Tyler said she could see the region tournament play out in a variety of ways, but added she hopes her team can find a way into the Sweet 16.

"I'm hoping we can come out and do the things we've been doing well all year," Tyler said.

Parker (23-6) is the top-seed in Region 5A and will take on the winner between Parkston and Mount Vernon/Plankinton for a Sweet 16 spot on Thursday in Parker.

MCM looks to play mistake free

McCook Central/Montrose enters the Region 5A tournament on a roll as well. The Fighting Cougars haven't lost a match in the month of October and enter the postseason on an eight-game winning streak.

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Last week, MCM (16-8) topped Class B No. 3-ranked Hanson in five sets and MCM head coach Tami Bies said her team has stressed not beating itself with mistakes.

"We are working hard to minimize our errors," Bies said. "The less errors we have, the better we play. That's really been our focus."

Like Wagner, MCM has played a tough schedule with seven of its eight losses coming against teams with 20 or more wins.

"We can play with those really good teams," Bies said. "We work on a mindset that we can win and not be afraid to try new things."

On the court, hitters McKenna Kranz, Aleah Ries and Morgan Koepsell have powered MCM's offense along with setter Hayley Miles. Kranz, Ries and Koepsell each had more than 10 kills in last week's win over Hanson.

Bies said her team isn't overlooking Bon Homme (4-23), who MCM hosts on in the first round on Tuesday in Montrose, but she added her team will have play at it's best to get past Wagner and reach the Sweet 16.

"We will have to play really hard to get past Wagner," Bies said. "We'll have to try and stay on the offensive side and stop them from getting on that offensive roll."

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