A dream season for Watertown High School’s volleyball team keeps getting more memorable.
Three Arrows have been named to the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches’ 2019 Class AA All-State team after Watertown capped a 28-2 season with the second state championship in the 30-year history of the program.
Sophie Tietz, a 5-foot-10 senior middle hitter-blocker, and Meghan Heggelund, a 6-0 senior outside hitter, are two of the eight first-team selections. McKenzie Buisker, another 6-0 senior middle hitter, is one of the seven second-team honorees.
Tietz — a repeat first-team selection — produced 265 kills, 38 aces, 131 digs and 99 blocks (10 solos, 89 assists) for the Arrows and finished her career with as the school’s all-time leader in blocks with 340 (76-264). The Minnesota State (Mankato) recuit was a four-year regular for the Arrows and also tallied 659 kills, 106 aces and 271 digs in her career.
“Sophie is an amazing athlete who plays aggressive and smart,” said Watertown head coach Rosemary Bellum. “Most of the time Sophie will play all around, but her strength was in the front row.
Heggelund will play collegiately at Bemidji State University — and against Tietz and Mankato, which also plays in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Heggelund notched a team-leading 281 kills to go with 67 digs and 32 blocks (5-27) this fall. Also a four-year regular, her career totals included 586 kills, 177 digs and 102 blocks (12-90).
“Meghan is a silent, but explosive player,” Bellum sadded. “She is a very deceiving player. She appears small, but her arm speed is powerful.”
Buisker, who will also continue her volleyball career in college at Dakota Wesleyan University, recorded 199 kills and 31 blocks (6-25) for the Arrows. A three-year varsity performer, she had 527 kills and 171 blocks (36-135) in her career.
“McKenzie plays with a lot of emotion on the court on the bench,” said Bellum. “She may be 6-foot tall, but her wing span allows her to be 8-foot. He slide attacks are hard to defend.”
The three standouts help lead the Arrows to 67-17 record the past three years.
The Arrows’ 22-year title drought ended with a 3-0 championship win over Sioux Falls O’Gorman, which also three All-State selections — 6-1 senior outside hitter Emma Ronsiek and 6-1 freshman setter-outside hitter Bergen Reilly on the first team and 5-11 junior setter-outside hitter Raegan Reilly, a second-team honoree. O’Gorman went 26-5.
Ronsiek will play college basketball at Creighton University, but made her mark on the volleyball court as a two-time All-State first-team honoree. She produced 412 kills, 231 digs, 53 aces and 27 blocks this fall and finished with a school-record 1,422 kills and 203 aces during her career.
“Emma deserves All-State recognition not only because of her outstanding statistical contributions to the team and this program, but also because of her talents as an all-around player and leader,” said O’Gorman head coach Emily McCourt. “She is a great contributor to this program on and off the court.”
The Knights will miss Ronsiek, but are certainly glad they’ll get three more years out of Bergen Reilly. She notched 464 assists, 243 digs, 219 kills and 46 aces this season and has already surpassed 1,000 assists for her career.
“Bergen is an incredible all-around player who has expanded her game to be a threat both as a setter running the offense and as an outstanding attacker,” said McCourt.
O’Gorman will also get another season from Raegan Reilly — Bergen’s older sister. Raegen had 408 assists, 211 kills, 57 aces and 250 digs this fall.
“Raegan is an outstanding leader, teammate and athlete. She runs the offense with confidence and poise and is also an incredible threat as an attacker,” said McCourt.
The remaining first-team selections include repeat honoree Havyn Heinz, a 5-5 senior libero from Huron’ Phekron Kong, a 6-4 senior middle hitter from Sioux Falls Washington who moved up from the second team; Brooklyn Kusler, a 6-0 junior outside hitter from Aberdeen Central and Tatum Kooima, a 5-7 senior libero for Sioux Falls Roosevelt.
Heinz, the state’s Class AA Miss Volleyball, closed out a remarkable career as a five-year varsity regular for the Tigers. The four-time All-Eastern South Conference selection recorded 630 digs and 59 assists in leading Huron to a third-place finish in the state tournament. The Northern State University recruit concluded her career with 3,092 digs, 233 aces, 181 assists and five state-tournament appearances.
“She was the anchor on the defense for five years and had to rely on her instincts and ability to read hitters and situations,” said Huron head coach Shelly Buddenhagen. “She alone was able to change the way hitters and offenses attacked.”
Kong is the biggest All-State player and was certainly one of the top front-row threats in the state, recording 215 kills and 86 blocks (32 solos, 54 assists) this fall for a Washington team that finished fourth in the state tourney. The University of Louisville recruit was a four-year varsity player who recorded 750 kills and 312 blocks during her career.
“PK is a great kid with a lot of potential,” said Washington head coach Kelly Schroeder. “She has a grown a lot as a player and a leader over the last four years. I’m really excited to watch her progress over the next four years at Louisville.”
Kooima put the finishing touches on her four-year varsity career in the state tournament, closing out her senior season with 595 digs and 53 ace serves. She played in 430 sets in her career and produced 2,111 digs and 176 aces.
“Tatum has excelled at this position. She has the ability to read plays really well and find the right angles to put on balls for our setter,” said Roosevelt head coach Kevin Vanderwal. “She is our foundation in our back row and also was our go-to server.”
Kusler was the lone All-State player who didn’t get to play in the state tournament, but proved her worth with a team-leading 283 kills and 237 digs this fall in her third year as a starter for the Golden Eagles.
“Brooklyn is a great all-around volleyball player,” said Aberdeen Central head coach Jackie Bindenagel. “She is extremely efficient at the net, she’s smart with the volleyball and she understand the game. She is hard worker who wants to keep improving every day.”
Other second-team selections include seniors Kyah Watson of Rapid City Stevens (6-0 outside hitter) and Hallie Mertz of Harrisburg (5-10 outside hitter), junior Tenley Buddenhagen (5-5 setter) and sophomores Brynn Kirsch of Sioux Falls Lincoln (5-8 libero) and Elizabeth Denevan (5-5 setter) of Sioux Falls Roosevelt.
Class AA All-State Volleyball Team
Chosen S.D. Volleyball Coaches Association
Phekran Kong, Sioux Falls Washington, 6-4 senior middle hitter
Emma Ronsiek, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, 6-1 senior outside hitter
Tatum Kooima, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 5-5 senior libero
Sophie Tietz, Watertown, 5-10 senior middle hitter
Havyn Heinz, Huron, 5-5 senior libero
Meghan Heggelund, Watertown, 6-0 senior outside hitter
Brooklyn Kusler, Aberdeen Central, 6-0 junior outside hitter
Bergen Reilly, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, 6-1 freshman setter-outside hitter
Tenley Buddenhagen, Huron, 5-5 junior setter (863 assists, 289 digs, 70 aces)
Kyah Watson, Rapid City Stevens, 6-0 senior outside hitter (269 kills, 69 blocks, 35 aces, 187 digs)
McKenzie Buisker, Watertown, 6-0 senior middle hitter
Raegan Reilly, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, 6-11 junior setter-outside hitter
Brynn Kirsch, Sioux Falls Lincoln, 5-8 sophomore libero (398 digs, 24 aces)
Hallie Mertz, Harrisburg, 5-10 senior outside hitter (299 kills, 24 blocks, 154 digs, 39 aces)
Elizabeth Deneven, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 5-5 sophomore setter (797 assists, 30 aces, 215 digs)