Wagner finishes fourth in Class A state volleyball tournament
The Red Raiders finish their season with a 28-8 record.
RAPID CITY — Wagner’s trip to the 2021 state volleyball tournament was a significant step toward reestablishing the program, with its proud volleyball tradition, among the top in its class.
In the Class A third-place match, Dakota Valley (28-9) proved too much, defeating the Red Raiders (28-8) in straight sets Saturday afternoon at the Summit Arena. Set scores were 25-11, 25-17 and 28-26.
But the overall tournament experience was a positive one, according to Wagner coach Stacey Knebel. This year’s team was the Red Raiders’ first state tournament qualifier since 2013 and the fourth-place finish was the program’s best placing since being runner-up in 2011.
“We had goals taped up on our wall,” Knebel explained. “The first one was to make state, so we ripped that one down. The second was top five, and we ripped that one down. I think we’ll settle for fourth.”
The Panthers pounced all over the Red Raiders after the first serve, rolling to a 11-1 lead on their way to the most convincing set win of the afternoon.
Wagner kept within striking distance in the early stages of the second set, but leading 9-8, Dakota Valley went on a 9-3 run to collect firm control of the set and took a 2-0 lead.
Dakota Valley opened the third set on another 9-3 run, but the Red Raiders battled back steadily, eventually taking a 21-19 lead. But the Panthers wouldn’t let the opportunity to secure a sweep slip away, extending the match past the 25-point threshold before earning the necessary two-point advantage at 28-26 to cement the 3-0 victory.
For the Panthers, Jorja Van Den Hul had a team high 12 kills and added one ace serve. Logan Miller put up 31 assists, five digs and four ace serves. Kate VanRooyan (19), Reagan Van Rooyan (10) and Sophie Tuttle (10) each had double-digit digs, and Tori Schulz notched eight kills.
Emma Yost led the Red Raiders with 10 kills and 18 digs. Shalayne Nagel posted six kills and 11 digs, as Madi Knebel and Avari Bruguier each had double figures in digs with 14 and 10, respectively. Macy Koupal had 22 assists and six digs.
All seven players who saw the court for Wagner are juniors or younger, which already has the Red Raiders looking ahead to next year.
“It’s going to be a special run,” Knebel said. “These girls are going to work so hard in the offseason. … Just getting here and experiencing this tournament atmosphere and the level of volleyball that’s here really benefited us.”