With just a few weeks remaining in the South Dakota volleyball regular season, the postseason is beginning to take shape, with the goal of reaching the SoDak 16 and the state volleyball tournaments in Rapid City.

With the playoffs set to begin on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, here’s a breakdown of where things stand in the area volleyball regions of note. (All records prior to Monday’s matches.)

Region 3A

A look at the top teams: Deciding the top-two finishers in Region 3A has been something of a formality for some time now. Two of the top three ranked programs in all of Class A — No. 1 Sioux Falls Christian (26-4) and No. 3 Garretson (21-1) — call this region home, making it very difficult for any of the other six schools to make a run at the postseason.

How we got here? Sioux Falls Christian hasn’t lost to a team from South Dakota this season (all four losses are to Iowa schools in best-of-three sets tournament matches), and Garretson’s lone loss came in five sets to Chester Area (21-5, second in Region 4B). While Sioux Falls Christian and Garretson have distanced themselves, Baltic (15-6) and Madison (14-8) have managed to put together respectable campaigns with single-digit losses to date. McCook Central/Montrose (10-12) has recovered from a tough 1-6 start to draw near .500, but sits at a distant sixth place in mid-October.

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Looking ahead to November: The top two in this region are as close to locked in as can be.Third-place Baltic would need to make up a deficit of 2.3 seed points, which, with the number of matches remaining compared to those that remain, is exceedingly unlikely, if not mathematically impossible. Sioux Falls Christian will tune up for the postseason against a pair of Class AA opponents in No. 5 Harrisburg (Oct. 19) and Yankton (Oct. 22), while Garretson’s toughest remaining test is against Colman-Egan (18-6), which is currently the third-place team in Region 4B. Sioux Falls Christian and Garretson did not schedule one another during the regular season, meaning any potential meeting would be in the postseason.

Region 5A

A look at the top teams: Class A No. 5-ranked Wagner (20-4) would be joined by Mount Vernon/Plankinton (15-5), though this region has the tightest race at the top of three Class A regions featuring area teams. Wagner sits just under 0.3 seed points ahead of MVP, which is a shade over 0.85 seed points up on Sanborn Central/Woonsocket (20-4) for the second spot, meaning all three programs have plenty to play for as the regular season comes to a close.

How we got here? SCW would just miss the cut due in part to Wagner and MVP’s more difficult schedules. MVP has a pair of losses to sub-.500 teams, while Wagner and SCW are a combined 25-0 against such competition, but success against better competition is the current separating factor. Wagner and MVP have played more opponents with winning records, owning records of 9-4 and 10-3, respectively, in those contests. SCW has had its own successes, but to a lesser degree with a mark of 6-4 against other winning programs. MVP hasn’t lost in three weeks, and owns earlier wins over Wagner and Platte-Geddes (twice), the top team in Class B’s seed point standings. Parkston (15-12) has managed a winning record despite facing the most difficult schedule in the region (opponents have a .560 winning percentage), while Bon Homme (8-15), Andes Central/Dakota Christian (6-18) and Hanson (5-18) have not been so fortunate.

Looking ahead to November: There likely won’t be an anticlimactic resolution to the standings, as all three top programs face considerable tests in the final days of the regular season. MVP will be at Southeast South Dakota Conference Tournament with the likes of other top programs in Wagner, Burke and Platte-Geddes on Oct. 23 before making the trip to Forestburg for a clash with SCW in the regular season finale. SCW has its own opportunity to swing the standings, facing undefeated Bridgewater-Emery (25-0) before hosting MVP. In addition to hosting the SESD Tournament, Wagner has a standalone match against Burke (22-5) to close its regular season. Though Parkston is in fourth and will also be at the SESD Tournament with a chance to make up some ground in the seed point race, the Trojans two-point deficit to MVP is likely too much to overcome.

Winner's Aleya Miller digs out an Mount Vernon/Plankinton kill attempt during a match on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 at Plankinton High School.  (Branden Hull / Republic)
Winner's Aleya Miller digs out an Mount Vernon/Plankinton kill attempt during a match on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 at Plankinton High School. (Branden Hull / Republic)

Region 6A

A look at the top teams: Mobridge-Pollock (22-6) and Winner (13-10) would slot in as the top two from Region 6A. The pair split their two regular season meetings, Winner emerging victorious at the Big Dakota Conference Tournament and Mobridge-Pollock earning a true road win.

How we got here? While on the surface there’s a considerable disparity in record between the two, the Warriors are less than 0.4 seed points behind the Tigers for first in the region and nearly 1.8 seed points up on third-place Stanley County, which owns a similar 12-9 record. Winner benefits from a schedule that boasts a combined opponent winning percentage of .623 — far and away the tops in the region (the next closest is fourth-place Chamberlain at .531). The top three are the only programs with a realistic chance at qualifying for the postseason, as they are the only three programs in the region with winning records this season.

Looking ahead to November: It’s going to be difficult for Winner to avoid giving up ground to Stanley County. The Warriors’ remaining schedule includes away matches against Class A No. 5-ranked Wagner (20-4) and the top team in Class B seed point standings, Platte-Geddes (21-4). Winner also will attend the Southeast South Dakota Conference Tournament, where potential stumbling blocks include Burke (22-5), Gregory (13-9), Mount Vernon/Plankinton (15-5) and Parkston (15-12), along with the possibility for additional meetings with Platte-Geddes and tournament host Wagner.

Bridgewater-Emery's Cara Meyer prepares to hit a serve during a high school volleyball match Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 against Freeman in Emery. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Bridgewater-Emery's Cara Meyer prepares to hit a serve during a high school volleyball match Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 against Freeman in Emery. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Region 4B

A look at the top teams: Bridgewater-Emery, the No. 1-ranked team in the class and the last undefeated team in Class B, stands at 25-0 and holds the No. 1 seed-point spot in the region. (Every other team has at least three losses.) But perennial power Chester Area (21-5) is only three-thousandths of a point behind the Huskies in the seed-point standings. The Huskies defeated the Flyers in their home tournament in two sets on Sept. 18 and then won a standalone match a week later in a three-set sweep at Chester. As of Monday, the two teams are No. 5 and No. 6 in overall seed points in the class.

How we got here? Colman-Egan, the No. 3 seed-point team in the standings, started the season with a record of 16-2, but has lost four of its last six matches, including in four sets hosting Chester and in five sets at Emery on Oct. 12.

The Flyers have regularly met the challenge on their schedule, with 13 matches scheduled against Class A foes, providing a chance for bonus points for playing up a class, while also playing four Class AA schools at the Huron Invitational on Aug. 28.

Ethan (14-11), Dell Rapids St. Mary (16-8), Oldham-Ramona/Rutland (13-12) and Howard (11-12) make up the mid-pack of the region in seed positions 4-through-7.

Looking ahead to November: B-E has just two matches remaining, including an Oct. 22 home match with Sanborn Central/Woonsocket. Chester Area plays just once more after an Oct. 19 match at Sioux Valley: a Sept. 25 showdown hosting a 25-win Arlington team.

Bridgewater-Emery's Taylor Schallenkamp, right, tips the ball over the outstreteched hands of Freeman's Erin Uecker (5) during a high school volleyball match Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 in Emery. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Bridgewater-Emery's Taylor Schallenkamp, right, tips the ball over the outstreteched hands of Freeman's Erin Uecker (5) during a high school volleyball match Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 in Emery. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Region 5B

A look at the top teams: The top-two spots in the region are held by Freeman (14-9) and Gayville-Volin (18-7), with the Raiders only one-hundredth of a point behind the Flyers. No other team in the region is above .500 for winning percentage for the season.

How we got here? Freeman has had the toughest schedule of the teams in the region and has fared the best against those foes, going 6-7 against teams with a record .500 or better. Gayville-Volin has gone undefeated against teams with a sub-.500 record (12-0) and is 2-7 against teams with a record of .500 or better. Irene-Wakonda (11-12) and Scotland (10-11) are No. 3 and No. 4 in the region seed-point standings.

Looking ahead to November: As it stands currently with the top teams Freeman and Gayville-Volin, the Region 5B representatives in the SoDak 16 would be in the No. 14 and No. 15 seeded slots. While some upsets are almost certainly to occur, the region’s representatives will likely have difficult opponents in the SoDak 16 state-qualifying round to reach the state tournament.

The Wagner volleyball team celebrates a score during a volleyball match Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Parkston. (Matt Gade / Republic)
The Wagner volleyball team celebrates a score during a volleyball match Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Parkston. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Region 6B

A look at the top teams: Platte-Geddes (21-4) is not only the No. 1 team on seed points in the region but in all of Class B, standing 0.25 points ahead of Northwestern and Arlington. Burke (22-5) is the No. 9 overall team in the seed-point standings, giving Region 6B two stalwarts for the postseason. Closely following the Black Panthers and the Cougars is Avon (16-7), Kimball/White Lake and Gregory (both 13-9) and Tripp-Delmont/Armour (16-11).

How we got here? The Black Panthers have benefitted from three wins over Class A teams with strong records (Wagner twice and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket), plus wins over Northwestern, Burke and Colman-Egan. Burke has won 16 matches since a five-set loss to Platte-Geddes on Sept. 21. Gregory, which started 8-2, and Avon, which had a stretch of 13 wins in 16 matches across the middle of the season, both have shown moments of being tough opponents this season. KWL is a dark horse here with some pedigree, reaching the SoDak 16 in Class B in three of the last four seasons.

Looking ahead to November: Much like in Region 5A, Burke, Gregory, Platte-Geddes will participate in the SESD Tournament on Oct. 23, which will provide extra chances for quality wins before the end of the regular season.