Winner tops Wagner, advances to semis at Class A state tourney
ABERDEEN -- For the first time in school history, the No. 4 Winner Warriors advanced to the semifinals of the Class A volleyball state tournament. The Warriors rode a balanced hitting attack to defeat the No. 5 Wagner Red Raiders in four sets Thu...
ABERDEEN - For the first time in school history, the No. 4 Winner Warriors advanced to the semifinals of the Class A volleyball state tournament.
The Warriors rode a balanced hitting attack to defeat the No. 5 Wagner Red Raiders in four sets Thursday at Aberdeen Central High School. Set scores were 25-18, 25-22, 13-25, 25-14.
Winner advances to face top-seeded Belle Fourche, while Wagner moves to the consolation bracket to meet eighth-seed Sioux Valley.
This was the third time the teams faced off this season. Winner also won both previous matches.
“We did a good job of being scrappy and passing the ball," Winner volleyball coach Jaime Keiser said. “Overall, we have played the way we have all year, and that is what we wanted to come out and do.”
Winner came out with a mixed attack, featuring senior outside hitter Lindsey Calhoon, junior right side hitter Kelsey Bertram, senior setter Sara Husher and senior outside hitter Cassidy Hanson.
Calhoon, Bertram and Hanson controlled the net throughout the match with their height and jumping ability, while Husher directed play. Three Warriors recorded double-doubles in the match.
Calhoon tallied a team-high 14 kills to go along with 14 digs, Bertram had 10 kills and 14 digs and Husher recorded 40 assists, 12 digs and two blocks. Hanson added nine kills, 18 digs and two blocks.
“I thought we did real well today,” said Hanson, who’s 6-foot. “Everybody was hitting, everybody was on the floor and everybody played with so much heart because we really wanted to win. Wagner was really well-rounded, but we read them pretty good. It also helped that we had seen them a couple times before.”
The Warriors (26-3) jumped out to a two-set lead, but the third set was all Wagner. The Red Raiders (26-7) struggled in sets one and two, but found the groove offensively in the third set. The result was a 25-13 victory, which ended Winner's hopes of a sweep.
“We played each point with the energy that needs to be played at the state tournament during the third set,” Wagner volleyball coach Amy Tyler said. “We kept attacking them in that set as well, but I thought we came out a little too hesitant at the beginning of the game.”
Despite having problems slowing down the Winner hitters, Wagner finished with 90 digs and eight blocks.
The Red Raiders were led by senior outside hitter Gina Soukup, who had 15 kills, 11 digs and one block for a double-double. Sophomore middle blocker Emily Brunsing chipped in with 11 kills, while junior defensive specialist Brooklyn Tolliver had a team-leading 22 digs and senior setter Kayla Deurmier had 40 assists and 14 digs for a double-double.
Keiser said her team did a good job at staying focused despite Wagner’s tough defense.
“It was making me mad that they got to everything,” Keiser said, "but the girls didn't get frustrated. I think Wagner did a good job of digging it up, but we did a good job of not getting flustered."