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Freeman scores SoDak 16 upset of Jones County, earns first Class B tourney appearance since 1998

The 12th-seeded Flyers never looked rattled playing the one-loss Coyotes, using that composure and well-timed runs to win 3-0.

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Members of the Freeman volleyball team celebrate on the court after defeating Jones County in a Class B SoDak 16 volleyball match on Nov. 8, 2022, in Chamberlain.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — Entering Tuesday, Class B No. 5 seed Jones County had lost just once all season and not at all in a best-of-five set match.

That was until the Coyotes ran into Freeman with a state tournament bid on the line.

Seeking a state-qualifying round breakthrough that had eluded the program in recent seasons, the Flyers swept through the Coyotes on Tuesday night inside the Chamberlain Armory, providing the largest upset by seed in the Class B SoDak 16 this season. Set scores were 25-21, 25-15 and 25-21.

“We’ve been in this position four times in my four years, and we couldn’t quite get over the hump,” said Freeman coach Kendra Petersen. “Really, we just did our homework, had the energy and intensity this last week or so and the girls brought it tonight. They accepted the challenge, were ready to go and it showed.”

In the first set, after a 4-0 Jones County spurt put the Coyotes ahead 10-7, the Flyers answered with their own 4-0 run to recapture a one-point edge. But from there, Freeman never trailed, pushing the score to 19-15 before trading the final 12 points on the way to a first-set win.

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Behind again at 11-9 in the second set, the Flyers put together a match-defining surge, winning 16 of the final 20 points to take the second set as well.

“Throughout the year, we got in these ruts and we’ve been learning to get out of them and reset,” Petersen said. “Every point is a fresh start, so they started getting aggressive again and pulled out of it.”

Playing with the confidence that a 2-0 set lead provided, the third set looked poised to go heavily in favor of Freeman. Jones County offered a response, chopping a 16-8 lead down to 16-14, but the Flyers never looked rattled. Freeman pushed the advantage back to five points at 21-16 and closed the set out from there, punching the program’s ticket to its first state tournament since 1998.

“I took a timeout and told them, ‘We can do this; we just have to reset and do those little things right,’” Petersen explained. “We just got a little too excited and the nerves were getting back in it, but once they reset, they were good to go.”

Freeman will be the No. 8 seed in the tournament and play No. 1 Warner in the quarterfinals. Jones County’s season ends at 30-2.

NOTES: Since the start of the SoDak 16 format in 2017, Freeman became the third team seeded 12th or lower to win a match in the SoDak 16 round in Class B and the first via a sweep. The others included Faith, seeded 13th, won 3-2 over fourth-seeded Philip in 2017, while No. 12 Kimball/White Lake won 3-2 over No. 5 Kadoka Area in 2018. ... The Coyotes' 30-1 record entering the match is the best record for a team that was upset in the SoDak 16 in Class B since 2017, and topped in all classes only by No. 2 seed Custer in Class A, which was upset in 2016 by 15th-seeded Sioux Valley.

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Freeman's Kate Miller (12) tips an attack past a Jones County blocker at the net during a Class B SoDak 16 volleyball match on Nov. 8, 2022, in Chamberlain.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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