HURON -- Bridgewater-Emery is back at the Class B state tournament.

After making its first appearance in program history last year, the Huskies return for a second straight trip. This year, it’s about improving on their eighth-place finish, rather than the satisfaction of simply making the state tournament.

“Last year, we were so excited to be there and so excited to get there,” Bridgewater-Emery coach Mary Ernster said. “And this year, it feels like we’re going there with a little more of a purpose.”

Fresh off a sweep of Philip in the SoDak 16, Bridgewater-Emery (22-2) enters as the No. 5 seed after its regular-season record gave it the tiebreaker over Faulkton Area. The Huskies play fourth-seeded Colman-Egan at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Huron Arena.

Both teams present a bevy of hitters that will put stress on the defenses.

Kerrigan Schultz (296 assists) and Kaitlyn Roskens (160) set up Bridgewater-Emery’s offense, which includes Schultz also recording 123 kills. Julia Weber (319 kills) and Taylor Schallenkamp (171) are the Huskies’ top-two hitters, though. Weber (377 digs), Cara Meyer (241) and Schultz (219) lead the team in digs, as well.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“We just feel we’re fortunate to have all those different weapons in different areas of the court,” Ernster said.

Ernster knows Bridgewater-Emery’s defense will be tested against Colman-Egan’s quick offense, too. Olivia Baumberger (203 kills), Mackenzie Hemmer (200) and Hailey Larson (145) all have more than 100 kills this year.

“We’re going to have to play some defense and slow down their hits blocking-wise,” Ernster said. “Play some really good defense, scrappy defense in the back row and handle their serve-receive.”

The Huskies have focused on finding ways to neutralize Colman-Egan’s attack since their SoDak 16 win, but also honing their fundamentals. Ernster mentioned Bridgewater-Emery’s serve-receive against a quality serving team and being crisp in its transition to offense.

Bridgewater-Emery has talked about returning to the state tournament with a higher seed since the start of the season. Both things happened. All that’s left is performing starting Thursday.

“We have experience and a lot of girls that got playing time last year in the state tournament,” Ernster said. “So we’re hoping that will help us when we get on the floor.”