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SoDak 16 volleyball previews: Six area teams vie for state bids

State-qualifying games to be played Tuesday, Nov. 9

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Parkston's Brielle Bruening spikes the ball over Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Cally Faulhaber during a Region 5A playoff volleyball match Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 in Mount Vernon. (Branden Hull / Republic)
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High school volleyball teams in Class A and B compete in the SoDak 16 today, with the eight winners in each class qualifying for the state tournament. After playing matches at home sites in 2020 due to COVID-19, neutral sites return for the SoDak 16 this season.

The state tournaments will be played with all three classes at one site from Nov. 18-20 at the new arena in Rapid City.

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The Wagner volleyball team celebrates a score during a volleyball match Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Parkston. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Wagner prepares to face Elk Point-Jefferson

Elk Point-Jefferson (18-10) comes into the SoDak 16 looking to steal an upset over No. 4 Wagner at 7 p.m. in Irene.

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The No. 13 Huskies are making their fifth appearance qualifying for the SoDak 16, their third time as the lower seed. In 2019, Elk Point-Jefferson was the 14th seed taking down No. 3 seeded Hill City in five sets.

Wagner (24-6) is making its first appearance in the SoDak 16. They look to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2013, while Elk-Point Jefferson looks to make its third appearance in the state tournament out of the last four seasons.

This is the second time this season these two teams have matched up as Wagner beat the Huskies in straight sets at the Cavalier Clash in Bon Homme on Sept. 18. Since the Cavalier Clash, Wagner has won 13 of its last 15 matches of the regular season. Emma Yost leads the team in kills with 296 and digs with 413. Kya Kjeldgaard has also reached the 200 mark in kills with 206 and leads the teams in hitting percentage at .346. Macy Koupal leads the Red Raiders in assists with 856.

Rapid City Christian rides 10-game winning streak in SoDak 16 matchup against Parkston

Seeking its first Class A state tournament bid in 14 years, Parkston makes the 200-mile trip west Tuesday to Kadoka to take on No. 5-seeded Rapid City Chrsitian in the SoDak 16. The match will be played at 6 p.m. Central time.

Rapid City Christian (25-9) is 2-2 in the SoDak 16 since 2017. Last year the Comets hosted Redfield and won in three straight sets to advance to the state tournament for the second time in 22 years. Parkston is making its inaugural appearance in the SoDak 16 and looks to make its first state appearance since 2007.

No. 12 Parkston (20-14) will look to slow down Rapid City Chrisitan’s Olivia Kieffer, who leads the Comets in kills with 483 and digs with 309. Parkston has five players with over 100 kills this season and are led by Brielle Bruening with 199. Bruening also has a team-high 45 blocks while Mya Nuebel is the team’s leader in digs with 354 and Faith Oakley is the team’s leader in assists with 401.

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Winner's Aleya Miller digs out an Mount Vernon/Plankinton kill attempt during a match on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 at Plankinton High School. (Branden Hull / Republic)

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Winner looks to make its fourth straight trip to the Class A tournament

The Winner Warriors are three sets away from making their fourth straight trip to the state tournament, but a Hill City team that’s won 10 of its last 14 matches stands in their way.

Winner has been in the SoDak 16 every year since 2016 and has won three of the five matches. Winner (18-13) comes into this matchup against Hill City as the 11th seed, and in each of Winner’s victories in the SoDak 16, they’ve only advanced when they were the higher seed. No. 6 Hill City (25-7) is looking to make its second straight appearance in the state tournament. Last year, due to COVID-19, both teams were able to host the SoDak 16 match in their gym, but this year they’ll travel to Kadoka.

Winner’s Ellie Brozik leads the Warriors in kills and digs this season with 323 digs and 398 kills. Brozik has also served 87 aces this season at a 21 percent rate. Brozik is second on the team in assists behind Alexis Klein with 598 and third in blocks behind Jenna Hammerbeck with 37 and Karlee Brozik with 36.

Top-seeded Black Panthers draw Faith in SoDak 16 meeting

Seeded No. 1 in Class B, the Platte-Geddes volleyball team is one win away from its first state tournament since 2016. In the way is 16th-seeded Faith (20-17), a team that has played in every edition of this SoDak 16 format since its Class B inception in 2017, with the two teams meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Huron Arena.

The Black Panthers (31-4) are led by Karly VanDerWerff, a 5-foot-10 sophomore middle hitter, who has 422 kills, 59 blocks, 66 aces and 458 digs. Cadence Van Zee, a fellow sophomore, has 333 kills, 369 digs and 76 aces, while Regan Hoffman has 247 kills and 422 digs. Avery DeVries has 974 assists, 68 aces and 21 digs, with Hadley Hanson adding 361 digs. Platte-Geddes has won 15 straight matches, including five wins over teams that have qualified for the SoDak 16 in either Class A or Class B.

The Longhorns sport a 2-2 record in past SoDak matches. In 2019, the No. 4-seed Faith downed White River 3-0, while the Longhorns were defeated in three sets in 2020 as a No. 15 seed against No. 2 Warner. Faith last made the Class B state tournament in 2019, and they’ve won six of their last eight matches this season.

Freeman tangles again in the SoDak 16, facing Arlington

An upset-minded Freeman volleyball team heads north looking to advance to the Class B state volleyball tournament for the first time since 1998. The No. 14 Flyers (20-9) will face third-seeded Arlington (29-5) at 6 p.m. in Volga, after advancing past Irene-Wakonda in the region semifinals with a five-set home win.

It is the fourth consecutive season that Freeman has qualified for the SoDak 16, seeded each season between No. 13 and No. 15, with Freeman looking to advance for the first time. The Flyers played Warner in back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019, followed by a three-set sweep at the hands of Chester Area last season.

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Freeman has been led by Kate Miller, who has 303 kills, 292 digs and 51 blocks on the season, with teammate Erin Uecker picking up 221 kills, 323 digs and a team-best 77 total blocks. Ava Ammann is the primary setter with 428 assists this season, along with 240 digs. Ashlin Jacobsen has 245 digs and 32 aces, with Emily Mendel holding the team lead with 33 aces.

The Flyers will need to find a way to slow down Hadley Carlson, who has smashed down 666 kills in the 34 matches that Arlington has played this season, hitting .336 overall. The 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter accounts for more than half of the Cardinals’ kills this season, and she also has 488 digs. Grace Parry has 1,036 assists this season for Arlington, along with 84 service aces and 197 digs. The Cardinals also have the advantage of playing less than 15 miles from home at nearby Sioux Valley High School in Volga. This is Arlington’s first appearance in the SoDak 16 since back-to-back appearances as a No. 9 seed in 2017 and 2018, falling to Burke/South Central and Ethan, respectively. A win would send the Cardinals back to the Class B state tournament for the first time since 2010.

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The Burke volleyball team celebrates a point scored by Paige Bull, center, during a high school volleyball match Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Burke. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Burke prepares to battle Warbirds at the Corn Palace

After a year away, the Burke High School volleyball team has a chance to make its fourth Class B state tournament in the last five seasons in Tuesday’s SoDak 16 match with upstart Wolsey-Wessington. The two teams will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Corn Palace.

No. 10 Burke (28-8) is led by junior outside hitter Adisyn Indahl, who has 526 kills this season for the Cougars, hitting at a rate of five per set. She also has had 525 digs and 59 aces this season for Burke, which has seen the emergence of freshman Kailee Frank. She leads the team in aces with 88, has 255 kills and 355 digs. Paige Bull, a fellow freshman, has 133 kills and 103 total blocks and Elle Johnson has 446 digs for the Cougars this season. Burke has won in its three previous SoDak 16 appearances, winning as an 8-seed in 2017 at the Corn Palace, a 10-seed in 2018 and a 7-seed in 2019.

The seventh-seeded Warbirds (27-4) are playing in the volleyball SoDak 16 for the first time and have never reached the state tournament. They are led by Mya Boomsma and Leah Williams, who each had 19 kills in the team’s three-set win over Castlewood to reach the last 16. Wolsey-Wessington has won 10 of its last 11 matches and started the season 8-0. Of the team’s four regular-season losses, three of them were to fellow SoDak 16 qualifier Faulkton Area.

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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