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Unchartered waters: Ethan set to make state volleyball tournament debut

ETHAN--There is a first time for everything. Ethan High School has been waiting quite some time to qualify for the Class B state volleyball tournament. It was at the top of a long list of goals for the program at the beginning of the 2018 campaig...

Ethan junior Jada Plastow hits a ball past the block attempt of Chester Area's Ella Pry (9) during a match on Sept. 15 at the Bridgewater-Emery tournament in Emery. (Nick Sabato/ Republic)
Ethan junior Jada Plastow hits a ball past the block attempt of Chester Area's Ella Pry (9) during a match on Sept. 15 at the Bridgewater-Emery tournament in Emery. (Nick Sabato/ Republic)

ETHAN-There is a first time for everything.

Ethan High School has been waiting quite some time to qualify for the Class B state volleyball tournament. It was at the top of a long list of goals for the program at the beginning of the 2018 campaign, and on Thursday at the Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, the Rustlers make their long-awaited debut in the state tournament. Ethan (27-6) battles Chester Area (25-5) at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

When teams overcome a longtime obstacle or unexpectedly reach a setting like the state tournament, they are often simply happy to be part of it all. Ethan, however, is entering the weekend looking to make an impact, hoping to use experience from the school's trips to the girls basketball state tournament the past four years.

"I think they're ready to show what they can do," Ethan head coach Stephanie Plastow said. "We don't have experience at the state tournament in volleyball, but most of these girls have been to three or four state tournaments in basketball, as well as gymnastics. So it's not new to them being on a big stage, it's just a different sport."

The Rustlers earned the sixth seed, which earns them a rematch with No. 3 Chester Area-led by senior Jadon Wages (325 kills)-which placed third in Class B last year.

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The two teams met in the Bridgewater-Emery tournament on Sept. 15, with Ethan taking the first set before the match derailed in the final two sets as Chester Area handed the Rustlers their first loss of the season after starting 12-0.

"That was the first time we were tested this year," Plastow said. "I think it could have gone either way. There were some calls that went in their favor that could have gone our way that made a big difference. They're a very well-coached team, they've been consistent for so many years and it's good to see we can compete against them."

Ethan hopes to use the athleticism of its front line as an advantage, with junior Jada Plastow (295 kills and 288 digs), 6-foot senior Karly Gustafson (285 kills and 54 blocks) and sophomore Cameryn Logan (98 kills and 34 blocks) having the ability to match up with most teams in the state at the net. Meanwhile Jessica Bartscher (900 assists and 249 digs), Maddie Miiller (482 digs) and Mollie Miiller (291 digs) can track down balls on serve receive.

Should the Rustlers get past Chester Area in the first round, it could bring another rematch, this time with No. 2 Warner and could be the only team in the bracket that would have to potentially knock off the top three teams in the class to earn a state championship.

"I don't know how it's going to play out," Plastow said. "We just have to go there and play each game, give it 100 percent, and if we play our best, I think we have a really good chance in that first match and we'll see where it goes from there."

Related Topics: ETHAN
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