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Top-seeded Wagner takes down Winner in the Class A SoDak 16

The win means Wagner will carry the No. 1 seed in the Class A state tournament in Sioux Falls on Nov. 17, taking on Elk Point-Jefferson (24-9) at 11:30 a.m.

110822 Wagner Winner Avari Bruguier.JPG
Wagner's Avari Bruguier hits an attack during a Class A volleyball SoDak 16 state-qualifying match on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 in Plankinton.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic
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PLANKINTON, S.D. — The Wagner High School volleyball team is the No. 1 team in the Class A postseason for 2022.

And the Red Raiders backed up every part of that top-seed status on Tuesday night in the SoDak 16 state-qualifying round, sweeping Winner in three sets at Plankinton High School. Set scores were 25-14, 25-13 and 25-18.

The win means Wagner will carry the No. 1 seed in the Class A state tournament in Sioux Falls on Nov. 17, taking on Elk Point-Jefferson (24-9) at 11:30 a.m.

From the first serve, Wagner found itself in gear, starting on an 8-1 run and keeping Winner at an arm's length for the entire first set, while showing off its diverse lineup of hitters and skill at the net for the 11-point win in the set.

"They came ready to play. It can be hard to have the energy you need in a match like this and I thought our energy was good," Wagner coach Stacey Knebel said.

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110822 Wagner Winner Emma Yost.JPG
Wagner's Emma Yost hits a serve during a Class A volleyball SoDak 16 state-qualifying match on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 in Plankinton.
Marcus Traxler / Mitchell Republic

In the second set, Wagner had a big 9-0 run with Madi Knebel serving to break the set open at 12-3 and win 25-13. The third set was closer, with Winner rally back from a 12-4 hole to draw within one point at 19-18 before Wagner scored the final six points, closed with a Shalayne Nagel ace.

"I thought that playing them twice, we knew what they do and their big hitters," Winner coach Jaime Keiser said. "I thought we came out scared and they kind of admitted it afterwards. We said beforehand that we didn't have anything to be scared of because all of the pressure was on them to win, because everyone in the state expected us to lose. ... I think we loosened up but I think it's a lot of young girls that didn't have the experience and we learned about it."

For Wagner, Emma Yost and Avari Bruguier each had nine kills, while Kya Kjeldgaard had eight kills. Yost had a match-high 28 digs, with Bruguier and Macy Koupal each posting 11 digs and Koupal finishing with 29 set assists. Shalayne Nagel had four aces and six blocks, while Shona Kocer ahd five blocks and Kjeldgaard finished with four blocks.

Keelie Kuil had six kills for Winner, while Gracie Root finished with 18 digs. Preslie Petersek had 16 digs and Aleya Miller had 10 digs and two aces for the Warriors (12-20).

Knebel said that playing a familiar opponent in Winner made her a little nervous.

"Playing a team like Winner, they're so well coached and always have a trick or two up their sleeve, so you have to be ready for whatever they're going to throw at you," she said. "I thought we handled the situation well."

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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