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Rustler rallies come up short

SIOUX FALLS--Ethan High School made its debut in the Class B state volleyball tournament on Thursday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls, but it was not given a warm welcome in facing third-seeded Chester Area in the quarterfinals.

Ethan's Mollie Miiller (1) dives to save a Chester Area kill attempt as Jessica Bartscher (2) and Karly Gustafson (7) look on during the first round of the Class B state tournament at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls on Thursday. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Ethan's Mollie Miiller (1) dives to save a Chester Area kill attempt as Jessica Bartscher (2) and Karly Gustafson (7) look on during the first round of the Class B state tournament at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls on Thursday. (Matt Gade / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS-Ethan High School made its debut in the Class B state volleyball tournament on Thursday at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls, but it was not given a warm welcome in facing third-seeded Chester Area in the quarterfinals.

The No. 6 Rustlers did not look out of place, as they pushed the seasoned Flyers and even appeared to be on the verge of stealing a set.

Twice, however, Ethan wasn't able to hold off Chester long enough to make a sustained run as the Flyers came away with a three-set sweep, 25-20, 25-15 and 25-23.

"We broke down a little bit in our passing and that made a big difference," Ethan head coach Stephanie Plastow said. "When our passes are on, we can get sets to our hitters and our hitters can put it away. When our passes are off, it limits the options for our hitters."

The first set was a see-saw battle and back-to-back kills by Karly Gustafson gave Ethan a 16-14 lead. Following a timeout, Chester was able to regroup and rattle off six consecutive points to take a lead it would never relinquish.

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Errors would doom the Rustlers in the second set and a late rally in the third set came up just short, despite four kills and an ace from junior Jada Plastow.

"I think momentum shifts to our side, confidence shifts to our side (if we won the first set)," coach Plastow said. "We saw it in the first round of matches today, where they were all very even and the team that won the first set came out in the second set and won big. I think winning the first set is important, but I also knew our girls wouldn't give up."

Ethan controlled the middle of the net all match, particularly when Gustafson or Cameryn Logan patrolled the area. Gustafson tallied a match-high 13 kills, while Logan pitched in 10 to help lead the Rustler offense, but Chester's balanced attack on the outside was an equation Ethan wasn't able to solve as the Flyers moved the ball side-to-side to prime hitting positions.

"They made it difficult for our middle blockers to get out for that block," coach Plastow said. "There were holes in there and they were able to sneak it in there with their swings, but offensively I thought our middles did a really good job."

Jada Plastow finished with 12 kills and eight digs, while Jessica Bartscher added 36 assists and 13 digs and Mollie Miiller had six kills and 17 digs for Ethan (27-6). The Rustlers move to the consolation bracket to play Burke at 1:45 p.m. today.

Jayda Kenyon had 10 kills, Makenna Larson and Jadon Wages had nine kills apiece and Ella Pry added eight more for Chester Area (26-5), which faces Warner at 7:45 p.m. today.

Related Topics: ETHAN
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