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Elkton-Lake Benton sweeps Lakota Tech at Palace, returns to Class A state tourney

The win assures Elkton-Lake Benton a spot in the Class A state tournament for a second consecutive season, beginning Nov. 17 in Sioux Falls.

110822 ELB Lakota Tech Rachael Krog.JPG
Elkton-Lake Benton's Rachael Krog hits an attack during a Class A volleyball SoDak 16 state-qualifying match on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — Coming in on a seven-match winning streak, third-seeded Elkton-Lake Benton swept Lakota Tech on Tuesday night at the Corn Palace, booking a spot in the Class A state tournament. Set scores were 25-12, 25-14 and 25-7.

The win assures Elkton-Lake Benton a spot in the Class A state tournament for a second consecutive season, beginning Nov. 17 in Sioux Falls. The Elks will face Belle Fourche in the opening round with the match scheduled for 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 17.

After a close start to the first set, the Elks (30-3) pulled away with a six-point run, followed by a 12-2 run after an ELB timeout. The first set also brought on a milestone occasion for the Elks and junior setter Tevan Erickson, who reached 2,000 career set assists, with parents and students holding up placards with the achievement on them when the team reached the milestone. Erickson finished with 28 set assists and seven digs.

Her coach and mother, Melissa Erickson, said after the match that Erickson has become one of the team’s most dependable players this season. Erickson, a 5-foot-9 setter, has played on the Elks’ varsity team since eighth grade and was formerly an outside hitter before moving back to the primary passer position prior to her sophomore year.

“(She’s had a tremendous amount of growth in that time,” coach Erickson said. “She sees the court so well and she is very fortunate because she has a really good back row that gets the ball up to her and also has really good hitters to put the ball away.”

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The Elks closed out the set 25-12 and never looked back. The Elks had 16 kills in the second set and pulled away for a 15-7 run to win the frame, 25-14. In the third set, ELB won in decisive fashion, beating the Tatanka 25-7. A nine-point ELB run kicked the third set off, with a series of aces and kills bringing the match to a close at 25-12.

110822 ELB Lakota Tech Aubree Bales Shayla Bravo.JPG
Elkton-Lake Benton's Aubree Bales hits an attack over the hands of Lakota Tech's Shayla Bravo during a Class A volleyball SoDak 16 state-qualifying match on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at the Corn Palace.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

Melissa Erickson said the Elks focused on transitioning quickly on defense for a Tatanka strategy that frequently involves early attacks and passes over the net, working on trying to get hitter coverages in place against Lakota Tech.

“We just wanted to play our game,” the coach said. “We wanted to focus on playing good defense and getting the ball into a good position for our setter.”

In the match, Rachel Krog posted a team-high 12 digs as well as eight kills. Andrea Renkly led the team in kills in the game and on the night, posting 10 kills altogether. Kailyn Drietz pitched in seven kills and six digs while Kylie Ramlo added nine digs and three kills. Renkly, Erickson, Krog, and Ramlo all recorded two aces each in the win as well.

No stats were available for Lakota Tech, which was seeking its first state tournament appearance in only its third year as a school.

Concerning the state tournament, coach Erickson said her team will be ready after having a bittersweet first round a year ago and finishing in seventh place. The Elks were the No. 7 seed last year entering the state tournament and nearly upset No. 2 seed and eventual state runner-up Garretson in five sets in the quarterfinals.

“Making sure we win in that first round this year will be a huge goal for us,” she said.

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