Huskies ready for state-tourney debut
EMERY -- Last year’s frustration led to this year’s celebration.
Bridgewater-Emery was knocking on the door of making its first-ever state volleyball appearance last season, but dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker against Faith in the SoDak 16 match.
The Huskies used the match as fuel and they swept Kadoka Area in this year’s SoDak 16 match to punch their ticket to Rapid City.
“It really resonated with them and going into play Kadoka Area, I challenged them the night before to even pull up the Faith game and watch it or maybe just go home and think about it and think about how you felt walking out of that gym after that game was over,” B-E coach Mary Ernster said. “... They really, really wanted to get to the state tournament and just to prove they were good enough to be there.”
No. 8 Bridgewater-Emery (28-6) will play No. 1 Northwestern (38-0) at 2 p.m. Central time on Thursday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in its state-tourney debut.
The Huskies are paced by a host of hitters on the offensive end. Julia Weber (286 kills), Haley Schulz (208), Kennedee Weber (173), Cylie Kressman (139) and Taylor Schallenkamp (133) power the balanced offensive attack. Kerrigan Schultz adds 98 kills.
“We are really balanced on our offense,” Ernster said. “Anybody can step up and have a big night if they need to. No one person has to have a big night for us to be successful. That’s one of the biggest things that we’ve got going for us.”
The Huskies also run a two-setter offense to give hitters more opportunities to terminate points at the net. Sophia Potter has a team-high 551 assists, while Schultz has recorded 294 assists.
“They both do a really good job of reading the block and trying to fool the block into going somewhere and setting it to a different spot and getting our hitters open,” Ernster said.
Potter has been the starter the past three seasons and Schultz moves to the setter position when Potter goes to the back row.
The Huskies are also scrappy on defense, with Julia Weber notching a team-high 438 digs.
“She is really quick to the ball,” Ernster said. “She really reads and anticipates where hitters are going to go and she didn’t play back row at all last year. She’s been a real nice surprise for us.”
Cara Meyer (293 digs), Schultz (239), Kressman (226), Kennedee Weber (165) and Potter (164) also contribute defensively.
While the Huskies are making their first trip to state, Class B powerhouse Northwestern is making its 20th state tourney appearance. Ernster said the Huskies are flying under the radar and they will relish the underdog role against the Wildcats.
“The message is, go out and have fun and play hard,” she said. “It’s volleyball and you never know what is going to happen.”