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Platte-Geddes edges Faulkton Area in five-set thriller, claims third place in Class B

The Black Panthers finish their season with a 34-5 record.

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The Platte-Geddes volleyball team poses with the Class B third place trophy on Nov. 20, 2021, at the Summit Arena, in Rapid City. (Landon Dierks / Republic)

RAPID CITY — For the second time in three days, top-seeded Platte-Geddes was pushed to the brink in a deciding fifth set.

And just as they did in Thursday’s quarterfinal round, the Black Panthers (34-5) responded to the adversity, holding on to down No. 6 Faulkton Area (27-8) and earn third-place honors in Class B on Saturday afternoon at the Summit Arena. Set scores were 22-25, 25-8, 25-18, 20-25 and 15-12.

“We feel like champs,” said Platte-Geddes coach Melissa Johnson. “We ended the season with a win, played well, played together and had fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

The match began with Faulkton Area jumping out to an early lead, and while Platte-Geddes responded to briefly claim a lead, the Trojans edged ahead in the waning moments to take the 1-0 set advantage.

However, Platte-Geddes seemed unphased by the deficit. The Black Panthers mauled the Trojans early on and surged to a 13-3 lead in the second set, eventually leveling the match at one set apiece with a 17-point win.

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“After the first set, we came together and talked about ending the runs and coming out strong, particularly with our attacking,” Johnson said. “I think the girls really did that in the second set and from then on.”

Again in the third set, the Black Panthers took an early lead. Faulkton Area mounted more of a response, three times drawing to within two points, but Platte-Geddes closed it out to take their first set lead of the match at 2-1.

In the fourth set, Platte-Geddes looked poised to seal their third-place finish after, but the Trojans overcame a 15-9 hole with a 16-5 run to force a deciding fifth set.

It was then that the Black Panthers showed an exceptional amount of poise for a group composed primarily of sophomores and juniors who had never played in a state tournament setting prior to Thursday.

Platte-Geddes ran out to a 9-3 lead and held off the hard-charging Trojans to claim third place honors in the program’s first state tournament appearance since 2016.

“We started well, but then Faulkton came back,” Johnson said. “It got tight there, but our girls showed composure and were able to finish it.”

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Platte-Geddes' Karly VanDerWerff hits an attack over two Faulkton Area blockers at the net during the Class B third-place match on Nov. 20, 2021, at the Summit Arena, in Rapid City. (Landon Dierks / Republic)

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Karly VanDerWerff powered down 27 kills to go with 16 digs, four ace serves and one solo block for the Black Panthers, as Cadence Van Zee recorded 21 kills, 16 digs and two aces. Avery DeVries put up 51 assists with 12 digs and four ace serves, and Regan Hoffman chipped in 10 kills, seven digs and two aces. Hadley Hanson had 15 digs and one ace, and Baleigh Nachtigal had seven digs and two aces.

Faulkton Area was paced by 15 kills apiece by Isabel Aesoph and Shayna Heitmann. Camryn Deiter and Gabby Kast had 17 and 16 assists, respectively. Five Trojans — Sydney Campbell (23), Aesoph (21), Deiter (15), Carley Cotton (15) and Trisha Cramer (10) — reached double figures in digs.

While the 2021 tournament just ended, expectations are already high for the Black Panthers looking at 2022. Only one of the Black Panthers' state tournament contributors is a senior, leaving the program hopeful that this tournament experience will lead to another special run next season.

“We're definitely thinking about that future,” Johnson said. “It's exciting to think we could be coming back next year, and I think our seniors are proud of our younger girls that they have that potential.”

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Platte-Geddes' Regan Hoffman digs out a ball during the Class B third-place match on Nov. 20, 2021, at the Summit Arena, in Rapid City. (Landon Dierks / Republic)

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALLPREP SPORTS
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