EMERY — Bridgewater-Emery talked about a return trip to the Class B state tournament since the first practice.
It knew the feeling of clinching a trip to the state tournament from last year, and wanted to experience it again. Despite losing key pieces from last year’s team, the Huskies focused on getting a higher seed in the SoDak 16 this year, and with a higher seed in hand for the No. 5 Huskies, Tuesday delivered the season’s defining moment.
Bridgewater-Emery’s 25-18, 25-12 and 25-14 sweep of No. 12 Philip sent the Huskies back to the state tournament for the second straight season. In their second all-time appearance, the Huskies (21-2) play Colman-Egan at 2 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Huron Arena.
“We talked about this everyday in practice,” Bridgewater-Emery middle hitter Morgan Uptagrafft said. “It was our main goal to be back.”
The Huskies are back.
It cruised in Emery, using big runs to take early leads in every set to put away Philip. The Huskies broke open a 6-6 tie in the first with a 9-0 run. In the second set, an 11-9 lead quickly became 17-9 as not even a Philip timeout could stop their momentum. And to close the match, they rattled off 13 straight points to take a commanding 18-5 advantage in the final set.
The Scotties (14-7) rallied, but never threatened Bridgewater-Emery.
“I think it had a lot to do with their offense. They’re pretty short,” Bridgewater-Emery coach Mary Ernster said. “Usually we’re the ones undersized. … We just knew we weren’t going to have to worry about blocking being a huge issue. So go at it and be aggressive.”
The Huskies were aggressive all match, with a plethora of hitters making an impact to spark Bridgewater-Emery’s runs.
Julia Weber led the team with 15 kills and 12 digs, while Taylor Schallenkamp and Uptagrafft finished with nine and six kills, respectively. Kerrigan Schultz set up the offense with 30 assists and 13 digs.
“I think it was our offense to go on those runs,” Weber said. “We had to have good passes and just running our quick offense.”
Bridgewater-Emery also capitalized when Philip’s Copper Lurz went to the back row. It focused on hitting the ball at her to make it difficult for the Scotties to get a quality set to the outside for her.
While Lurz still led the Scotties in kills, the Huskies were able to exploit Philip’s defense whenever she went to the back row. It led to key runs in every set.
“We knew she was their good hitter,” Ernster said. “When she rotated to the back, we knew that was the time to go. That’s when we started to push it and set our offense up. We had some offensive weapons, especially in the front row when she went to the back and then we just pushed it right then.”
It led to Bridgewater-Emery’s seventh straight win, a streak it’ll carry to Huron.
“They have talked about since the day we started practice -- that we’re going to do this, we’re going to go,” Ernster said. “It is very special for them. To get to go back and to compete again.”