HURON -- Corsica-Stickney is making school history Thursday.
The Jaguars qualified for this year’s Class B state volleyball tournament at the Huron Arena. It’s the first state volleyball appearance in consolidated school history. Corsica qualified for the 1992 state tourney, while Stickney never advanced to state.
The eighth-seeded Jaguars (19-3) will play No. 1 Northwestern (26-1) at noon Thursday in the opening round.
“We were very excited,” Corsica-Stickney coach Kylee Hongslo said. “This is only my second year here. I came in and I really wanted to build a strong program and to be able to do this, this early means the world to me and my girls.”
Hongslo knew Corsica-Stickney had the potential to reach state. The Jaguars fell one match short of the SoDak 16 last volleyball season. The Jaguars also put together an undefeated basketball season before the state tournament was canceled after the first day.
They continued to win on the volleyball court this fall. Corsica-Stickney lost to Bridgewater-Emery, Winner and Alcester-Hudson during the regular season. Bridgewater-Emery and Winner are both playing in this week’s Class B and Class A tournaments, respectively.
“We knew we definitely had a chance,” Hongslo added. “But we are happy we could have fulfilled it and completed the whole season.”
But it didn’t come easy. The Jaguars trailed Castlewood 2-0 in the SoDak 16 match, but rallied for a five-set win. The set scores of the marathon match were 26-28, 25-27, 25-23, 25-14 and 17-15.
“It was a very good game and Castlewood had a very good team,” Hongslo said. “I am so proud of the girls for not giving up.”
Offensively, Morgan DeLange (205 kills), Raven Barse (191 kills), Avery Broughton (169 kills) and Paige Wright (152 kills) pace the team. The 5-foot-11 Broughton, also a first-team all-state basketball player, has a team-high 93 blocks.
“She is a very good blocker,” Hongslo said. “She can play defense and she plays all the way around.”
Morgan Clites has recorded a team-high 394 digs, while Barse has 332 digs and recorded her 1,000th career dig earlier this season.
Sophomore setter Sutten Eide has logged 380 assists after she was inserted into the starting lineup midway through the year.
“She’s been really connecting with the girls and just has that will power to win,” Hongslo said.
The Jaguars will face a tough task in their opener. The Wildcats are perennially one of the top teams in the entire state and have played in four consecutive state championship matches, winning three of them. Northwestern’s lone loss this season was against Class AA No. 1 Sioux Falls O’Gorman.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us -- for sure,” Hongslo said. “But we do have strong blocks that a lot of teams don’t have and it’s a huge difference when you can get some blocks up.”