SIOUX FALLS-If Winner High School proved one thing during its three matches in the Class A state volleyball tournament, it was that it wouldn't go down without a fight.
The Warriors managed to regroup after a disappointing defeat to start the tournament and wanted to finish the job in the consolation final against Parker on Saturday.
Winner managed to wind up in precarious situations at various junctures of the match, but always found a way to rally. Ultimately, however, the Warriors weren't able to come up with one last charge, falling to Parker in five sets, 22-25, 26-24, 19-25, 27-25 and 10-15, to finish in sixth place.
"I thought both Parker and us were evenly-matched teams," Winner head coach Jaime Keiser said. "It just came down to who made less mistakes and who could stay in system. I thought in the fifth set they just got us out of system a little bit more than we did and we couldn't get it to our hitters like we wanted to."
After dropping the first set, Winner found itself on the verge of facing an insurmountable deficit. Parker led 24-20 in the second set, with a chance to go up 2-0 in the match when Keiser called a timeout.
Winner managed to catch lightning in a bottle following the timeout after citing a Class B quarterfinal match as motivation and the pep talk resulted in six consecutive points to take the set and tie the match.
"Faulkton (Area) was up 24-15 (in the third set) and ended up losing to Faith, so anything can happen," Keiser said. "We just had to do the little things and attack the ball. That's exactly what we did."
The momentum carried into the third set, but Parker eventually surged ahead. In the fourth set, the Pheasants were closing in on an elimination, but the Warriors rallied once more and tied the match in a back-and-forth set.
Winner couldn't keep a firm grasp on that magic, though, and ended the tournament with a 1-2 record in three games.
"I think if we could take that Elk Point-Jefferson (quarterfinal) match back, the girls would like that one," Keiser said. "I'm not saying we would have come out with win, but played a little harder. You saw a lot of warts in that match, but after that they really showed up the last two matches."
Morgan Hammerbeck had huge outing, posting 37 kills and 30 digs, while Ellie Brozik added 13 kills and 25 digs. Mackenzie Levi had 42 assists and seven digs and Maggie LaCompte chipped in a team-high 39 digs for Winner (27-6).
Grace Leberman led Parker (28-8) with 21 kills and a match-high 49 digs.