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Taking stock of area volleyball teams with two weeks remaining in the regular season

A look at the Class A and Class B regions containing area teams

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Wagner's Shalayne Nagel (3) and Shona Kocer (6) combine for an attempted block on the attack of Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Reagan Rus (11) during a high school volleyball match on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Plankinton High School.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — Five weeks from Thursday, the 2022 state volleyball tournaments for all three classes will get underway at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

While there’s still a lot of volleyball for teams to play between now and then, the larger postseason picture is starting to come into view with Class A and Class B region tournaments set to begin before October gives way to November.

With a focus on those containing Mitchell area programs, here’s a region-by-region look at South Dakota prep volleyball (Note: Records current prior to action on Oct. 11.):

Region 3A

Defending Class A champion and perennial powerhouse Sioux Falls Christian (22-4) has continued its dominance over this region in 2022, but the lone Mitchell area team in the region, McCook Central/Montrose (14-7), is the leader of a trio of programs looking to supplant last year's state runner-up Garretson. Perhaps the most difficult region in the state, MCM's strength of schedule (.552 opponent win percentage) ranks 17th in all of Class A but is just fifth in the region, as all eight teams have a mark north of .510.

Alongside the Fighting Cougars, Baltic (15-5) and Dell Rapids (14-8) are battling for second place in the region with Garretson (13-6), as all four programs are separated by less than one-half point in the seed-point standings and sit 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th in Class A overall. Madison is alone in sixth with a cushion of about two points on either side, with Tri-Valley (4-12) and West Central (3-10) rounding out the standings.

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Region 5A

A very good region — maybe even Class A’s best in 2021 — looked to get even better this year with the additions of defending Class B third-place winner Platte-Geddes along with Kimball/White Lake. For the most part, that's been the case, as six of the nine teams in the region have records of .500 or better. However, instead of creating more competition toward the top of the region, it has mostly served to muddy the middle-third of the standings.

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Off a 34-5 third-place season competing in Class B in 2021, the Black Panthers are off to another strong start behind an experienced roster in the program's return to Class A.

Wagner (21-2), last season's Class A fourth-place finisher, is atop the region seed-point standings (and second in all of Class A) with a cushion of more than 1.3 points on newcomer Platte-Geddes (17-4), which is eighth in Class A and one of only two programs (Class B Warner being the other) to defeat Wagner this season. The Red Raiders and Black Panthers are No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, in the most recent Class A South Dakota Prep Media volleyball poll.

KWL (15-7) is floating in third, more than 1.7 points down on Platte-Geddes but nearly a full point up on Bon Homme (13-7), which is just over one point clear of potential chaos in places 5-7. Last season's eighth-place Class A state tournament finisher Parkston (11-11), Mount Vernon/Plankinton (10-9) and Hanson (9-11) are separated by less than one-quarter of a point in battling for those positions, as Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (7-15) and Chamberlain (4-13) are in a race for eighth.

Similarly to Region 3A, the average strength of schedule is quite high in Region 5A, with seven of nine teams having an opponent win percentage upward of .516. Wagner’s mark of .576 is tops in the bunch and ninth in Class A, though Parkston, Platte-Geddes and MVP all fall in the top 20 with Chamberlain and KWL checking in top 30.

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Parkston's Mya Thuringer (16) celebrates a kill with teammates Lauren Ziebart (5) and Mya Nuebel (3) during a varsity volleyball match against Gregory on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Parkston.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Region 7A

Spread across the south-central and southwest parts of the state, Winner is the only Mitchell area team in this region. The Warriors are 7-14 this season, which ranks third in a region with only one team, Lakota Tech (16-6), above .500 at the top and Pine Ridge (8-8) in second. Winner has faced by far the most difficult schedule (.556 opponent win percentage) in the region (also the 14th-most difficult in all of Class A), with the next-closest mark (.493) belonging to winless Todd County.

Behind Winner, a trio including Little Wound (8-10), Red Cloud (7-12) and St. Francis (6-11) are closely clustered in a battle for fourth, separated by less than two-thirds of a point. Bennett County (1-16) and Todd County (0-17) round out the region.

Winning teams from other Class A regions
Region 1A: Redfield (14-10), Aberdeen Roncalli (9-6), Milbank (12-7), Webster Area (12-9)
Region 2A: Elkton-Lake Benton (20-2), Hamlin (17-3), Florence/Henry (18-6), Estelline/Hendricks (17-5), Sioux Valley (14-7)
Region 4A: Dakota Valley (18-6), Canton (16-3), Elk Point-Jefferson (17-6)
Region 6A: Miller (21-2), Mobridge-Pollock (19-3), Stanley County (11-10)
Region 8A: Rapid City Christian (24-6), Belle Fourche (19-6), Hill City (15-10), St. Thomas More (14-13), Hot Springs (16-10)

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Region 3B

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Howard's Landree Callies hits a jump serve during the Sanford Pentagon high school volleyball tournament on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 in Sioux Falls.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

This region may have changed slightly from what was Region 4B a year ago, but eight of the 10 member schools remained with a pair of 2021 Class B state tournament teams among them. Defending Class B state consolation champion Chester Area (19-5) and runner-up Colman Egan (14-7) lead the way once again and rank third and sixth, respectively, in all of Class B in the seed-point standings. The two programs' places among the elite have been secured by facing top competition, as Colman-Egan's strength of schedule (.611 opponent win percentage) tops all others in Class B and Chester Area's ranks 13th (.541).

Though nearly three points behind the leaders, Howard (15-8) is in the midst of a solid campaign, as is Sioux Falls Lutheran (13-5). The bottom half of the region all own sub-.500 records. Dell Rapids St. Mary (8-9) leads that group, followed by Ethan (10-12), Canistota (7-15) and Bridgewater-Emery (6-11).

Region 4B

At the top, Freeman (15-7) has separated itself from the pack, leading second-place Gayville-Volin (16-9) by nearly two full seed points despite owning similar records. The Flyers have been held back from ascending to the upper echelon of the Class B standings by a strength of schedule (.497 opponent win percentage) that is 38th of 72 teams, but have taken care of business against that schedule, going 11-0 against sub-.500 competition. That mark has landed Freeman at 14th in the overall Class B standings.

Behind the top two, the remaining seven teams, all with losing records, can largely be separated into two pods by seed points. Less than a point separates Viborg-Hurley (8-11), Alcester-Hudson (9-17) and Scotland (9-10), with a gap of almost two full points between them and the bottom four comprised of Centerville (7-14), Menno (4-15), Irene-Wakonda (3-18) and Freeman Academy/Marion (1-18).

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Burke's Elle Johnson hits the volleyball during a varsity volleyball match against Kimball/White Lake on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in White Lake.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Region 5B

The departure of Platte-Geddes and Kimball/White Lake to Class A has shifted the balance of power in what was formerly Region 6B, and Burke (20-3) is flying high as a result. The Cougars are in firm control of first place in the region seed-point standings even while facing the sixth-most difficult schedule (.572 opponent win percentage), which also has them fourth in Class B. Burke, ranked No. 3 in the most recent South Dakota Prep Media volleyball poll, is the only Class B program (and one of only two overall with Class AA O'Gorman being the other) to defeat No. 1 Warner this season.

A program on the rise, Tripp-Delmont/Armour (14-3) leads the chase and is seventh overall for seed points in Class B, while Wessington Springs (16-5) presents a quality challenge from third place as a team in the top 20 in Class B.

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The Nighthawks are off to a 14-3 start this year and sits at No. 7 in Class B

Only the top three teams own winning records in the nine-team region. Gregory (8-11) sits comfortably in fourth place, as Colome (6-14), Avon (7-13), Andes Central/Dakota Christian (5-14) and Corsica-Stickney (5-16) are battling it out for spots 5-8 and are all separated by less than three-quarters of a point in the seed-point standings. Marty (4-15) is in ninth place, almost two full points out of the eighth spot.

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Region 6B

Similarly to Regions 3A and 7A, only one Mitchell-area team calls Region 6B home, that being Lyman. The Raiders are 5-14 and sit at eighth of nine teams in the region seed-point standings, well ahead of Sunshine Bible Academy (2-18) and within striking distance of sixth place Lower Brule (8-10) and seventh place Highmore-Harrold (8-14).

On the top end, Herreid/Selby Area (15-6) owns first place in the region with Faulkton Area (16-9) not far behind despite facing the eighth-most difficult schedule (.562 opponent win percentage) in all of Class B. Ipswich (14-10) is the only other team in the region with a record above .500, while Potter County (10-14) and Sully Buttes (10-11) hover near that mark.

Winning teams from other Class B regions
Region 1B: Warner (26-2), Northwestern (20-8)
Region 2B: Arlington (15-8), Wolsey-Wessington (20-3), Deubrook Area (13-7), Castlewood (12-6), Oldham-Ramona/Rutland (11-8)
Region 7B: Jones County (21-0), Wall (12-8), Philip (15-10), New Underwood (12-9), Edgemont (13-8), White River (11-9)
Region 8B: Newell (19-5), Timber Lake (17-7), Faith (15-11)

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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