‘We want it even more’: Rustlers off to 9-2 start, won B-E tourney
Ethan is no longer chasing its first state volleyball tournament appearance. It accomplished that last season.
The historical context has passed, but the Rustlers’ motivation remains. They’re motivated by a return trip after a seventh-place finish last season, and their five-senior, two-junior core knows what it takes.
Ethan points to working hard at every practice, while also strengthening its communication and chemistry on the court. It has already made strides this season, culminating in winning the Bridgewater-Emery tournament on Sept. 21.
“I feel like we’re more relaxed because last year we really wanted to get (to the state tournament) and had a lot of pressure on us,” Ethan setter Jessica Bartscher said. “Now this year, we know what it takes to get there and we want it even more.”
Even with all of Ethan’s returning experience, it needed to replace all-state honorable mention Karly Gustafson on the front line. And the Rustlers have turned to a pair of juniors to do so.
Cameryn Logan is the team’s “go-to-hitter,” according to coach Stephanie Plastow, putting down 120 kills to go with 104 digs and 28 aces. Lexi Lingemann has stepped up as a blocker, as well.
Meanwhile, all-state honorable mention Jada Plastow (128 kills, 94 digs) returns and Bartscher has dished out 309 assists.
“I knew coming in I’d still have a good group of girls,” coach Plastow said. “We’d have to work a little harder to get where we were last year. I feel we have a chance to get back there if we continue to improve and work hard every day.”
The Rustlers’ improvement early on has been evident, with the Bridgewater-Emery tournament bringing Ethan’s 9-2 start full circle.
It dropped its first match of the season to now-Class B No. 4 Chester Area, but coach Plastow felt it, “learned about ourselves and what we’re capable of.” The Rustlers fell to the Flyers again in the B-E tournament, but received a confidence boost by defeating them in the championship match, 16-25, 30-28 and 25-23.
“It was pretty huge for us as a team,” Jada Plastow said. “Not necessarily in the stat book or our record, but because we haven’t been able to get over that hump. Just to get over that, it showed we can really do it. That’s a big part of our mentality.”
Continuing to play at a high level will be key for Ethan, especially after coach Plastow said it experienced a “few letdown matches,” after its season-opening loss. The Rustlers still rattled off four straight wins heading into Emery.
Ethan has another chance today in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Pentagon tournament to showcase its consistency, communication and chemistry against Class A schools. It plays Parkston and Dell Rapids in pool play.
“I feel like our teamwork has been a huge component this year,” Jada Plastow said. “I feel like we’ve been working together a lot better than we have in past years. Our chemistry has really shown on the court.”