State high school volleyball notebook: Bigger arena brings changes to state tournament experience

SIOUX FALLS--For the first time in the short history of the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, it hosted the South Dakota high school volleyball championships, diving in with all three classes at once. But there were no major problems o...

SIOUX FALLS-For the first time in the short history of the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, it hosted the South Dakota high school volleyball championships, diving in with all three classes at once. But there were no major problems on day one.

"I think it was a fantastic venue to have," said Mount Vernon/Plankinton coach Darcy Deinert said. "I don't think there's any doubt that it feels like a big deal when you're out on the court."

The 12,000-seat arena has three courts with matches taking place simultaneously. The Class A and Class B courts are on the ends of the arena, while the Class AA court is in the middle of the arena and runs perpendicular to the other two courts.

The scores for all three matches are shown on the center videoboard, so fans can follow along and there's no nets or curtains to partition the courts. That requires ball boys and girls between courts to keep balls from interfering with play. On the first day of the tournament, there were few balls that got through the neon green walls of youth that were positioned to block balls.

"You don't really even notice," said MV/P senior Makaela Karst. "I thought it worked out well."


Communicating on the court is also a different task at The Denny, mainly because cheers and screams don't carry as far as they would in a smaller venue. That makes yelling and communicating commands a little more difficult.

"In our last few matches, we've been in gyms where our fans are right there and it's not like that here," Deinert said. "They're quite a ways from the court, so we talked about how we knew we were going to have to create our own energy."

Platte-Geddes coach Jill Kemnitz said it helps when the teams are already good communicators to begin with.

"Your voice doesn't carry as far, that's for sure," she said. "But when everyone is on the same page, that makes it easier for everyone to know exactly what is going on, without having to yell it out."

Class AA

• Aberdeen Central def. Pierre, 3-0: The top-seeded Golden Eagles (21-2) dispatched the Governors 25-12, 25-11 and 25-19. Brianna Kusler had 11 kills and 18 digs for Aberdeen, while Elena Svingen had five kills and three aces for Pierre (12-15).

• O'Gorman def. Rapid City Stevens, 3-2: In the only five-set match of day one, the Knights prevailed 14-25, 25-21, 25-23, 20-25 and 25-11. Alex Anderson had 14 kills and 17 digs for O'Gorman (21-13), while Stevens (22-11) got a double-double from Haley Molstad.

• Brandon Valley def. Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 3-1: Behind 19 kills from Elsie Zajicek and 15 kills from Hanna Jellema, the Lynx (19-4) moved to the semifinals with a 25-18, 15-25, 25-19, 25-20 win over the Rough Riders. Roosevelt (16-15) was led by an 11-kill performance from Kaylor Ragels.


• Harrisburg def. Huron, 3-1: Third-seeded Harrisburg (20-4) survived an upset threat from Tigers from Huron (12-15) by a 25-16, 25-27, 25-21, 25-15 score. Samantha Slaughter had 13 kills for the Tigers. Sarah Carr had 10 kills and 11 digs for Huron.

Class A

• Spearfish def. Sioux Valley, 3-1: Fifth-seeded Spearfish (27-7) picked up the victory and the right to face Mount Vernon/Plankinton by a 25-23, 26-24, 21-25 and 26-24 score. The Spartans got 22 kills and 32 digs from Shelby Dittman, while the Cossacks (24-8) picked up 14 kills and 22 digs from Jessica Pepperman.

• Dakota Valley def. Mobridge-Pollock, 3-0: No. 2 seed Dakota Valley cruised to the semifinals with a three set victory, winning 25-14, 25-17 and 25-16. Meredith Lammers had 15 kills and nine digs in the victory for the Panthers (27-4). Lauren Henderson and Geneva Wollman each had seven kills for the Tigers (23-7).

• Sioux Falls Christian def. Milbank Area, 3-0: An 18-kill showing from Shelby Zomermaand was more than enough for the Chargers (27-4) to begin their title defense, winning 25-15, 25-18 and 25-10. Rachelle Gabriel had four kills for the Bulldogs (17-11)

Class B

• Parker def. Philip, 3-1: The No. 4 Pheasants held off the No. 5 Scotties, 25-16, 23-25, 25-13 and 25-16. Junior Rylie Christensen had 13 kills and Gabby Herlyn had 10 kills for Parker (27-6), while Cylver Lurz led Philip (25-6) with 15 kills.

• Warner def. Harding County, 3-0: The defending champion Monarchs started out with a convincing victory over the Ranchers 25-14, 25-10 and 25-16. Peyton Ellingson had 14 kills and Reilly Fuhrman had six kills and four aces for the Monarchs (29-5), while Harding County (23-8) was led by seven kills from Kyla Schleuning.

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
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