No. 1 Northwestern vs. No. 8 Corsica Stickney, noon
HURON — Top-seeded Northwestern will be looking to defend its Class B state championship from a year ago. The Wildcats bring a 25-1 record into this year’s event.
“We are so grateful to have a volleyball season amid the global pandemic that we will play with joy no matter the outcome,” said coach Nora Groft, who has led Northwestern to the state title match the previous four season and won on three of those occasions.
The Wildcats, who have won a total of 11 state volleyball titles, will be making their 20th overall appearance in the state tournament.
Northwestern will begin defense of its state championship against eighth-seeded Corsica-Stickney.
“Corsica-Stickney brings in an impressive 19-3 record, not typical of the 8th seed,” Groft said. “They are tall, athletic, competitive, and will challenge us on every ball. Every match at this tournament should be a close one!”
Leaders for the Wildcats during the 2020 season have been senior outside hitters Sydney Schell and Hannah Schentzell; senior libero Joclyn Haven; sophomore setter Brooklinn Halvorson; sophomore middle blocker Ella Haven; and junior right-side hitter Mack Stoltenberg.
Schell, who is a four-year starter, leads the Wildcats with 425 kills this season and has recorded 232 digs to go along with 50 ace serves, 28 assists and 30 blocks.
She has career totals 1,559 kills and 1,006 digs.
“She has a fast arm swing and has signed to play volleyball at Dakota State University with former Northwestern teammates Madalyn Groft, Peyton Groft, and Riley Grandpre,” Groft said.
Schentzel has 285 kills this season, while converting on 373 of 384 serves with 47 aces. She also has 122 assists on 307 of 310 sets, 245 digs and 20 blocks.
“Hannah is a versatile player who can perform all six skills well. She can set, hit, block, serve, pass, and play defense,” Groft said. “She is a positive teammate and a true team player who is willing to play wherever her team needs her most to be successful.”
Jocelyn Haven has 270 digs and 295 serve receptions as the team’s defensive specialist. She also went 266 of 307 serving with 49 aces and has 64 assists on 195 of 195 sets.
“Joclyn plays tenacious defense and puts up a pretty ball on serve receive,” Groft said.
Halvorson had recorded nearly 1,500 sets this season with 699 assists. She has gone 172 of 189 serving with 16 aces, while recording 128 digs, 22 blocks and 24 kills.
“Brooklinn continues to improve her setting skills and her decision-making skills every time she steps on the court,” Groft said. “The more Brooklinn plays, the better she gets.”
Ella Haven has 69 blocks to key the defense at the net. She also has 54 aces on 230 of 258 serving and 146 kills on 298 of 339 attacks to go along with 61 digs.
“Ella provides a quick attack in the middle and a monster block for opposing teams,” Groft said.
Stoltenberg has tallied 94 kills this season on 214 of 247 attacks, with 45 blocks.
“Mack is a silent assassin on the right side,” Groft said. “She puts down balls on the back side and sets up a long block on the opposing team’s outside hitter.”
Providing added depth this season for the Wildcats have been junior defensive specialist Teryn Sparling, junior middle blocker Haiden Grandpre, junior opposite Emma Grandpre, senior middle blocker Paige Larson, senior defensive specialist Hayden Bohl, senior right side hitter Bailey Heim and junior outside hitter Sawyer Styles.
Northwestern extended its school-record winning streak to 54 matches this season. The streak was snapped midway through the season with a setback against Class AA Sioux Falls O’Gorman, which is ranked No. 17 in the nation. Since then, the Wildcats have won 16 consecutive matches.
“The Class B state tournament bracket is filled with tough teams and programs that are perennial powers,” Groft said. “We love seeing our fellow northeast South Dakota teams — Warner and Faulkton Area — fill up the backet!”
Corsica-Stickney will be making its first state tournament appearance after putting together a 19-3 record this season.
“There is a nice mix of contenders,” said Jaguars’ coach Kylee Hongalo. “The field has teams that historically have a strong tradition of volleyball excellence along with some teams new to the state tournament experience who appreciate the opportunity to contend with those teams.”
Seniors Morgan DeLange (outside hitter) and Raven Barse (middle hitter) have led Corsica-Stickney this season, along with juniors Morgan Clites (libero) and Rachel Gerlach (right-side hitter) and sophomores Sutten Eide (setter) and Avery Broughton (middle hitter).
DeLange has 205 kills this season for the Jaguars to go along with 18 aces, 19 blocks and 137 digs.
Barse has 332 digs and reached the 1,000-dig milestone this season. She also has 191 kills, 39 aces and 51 blocks
Clites inked 394 digs and had 457 serve receptions this season with 29 ace serves, while Gerlach had 69 kills, 42 assists, 49 blocks and 144 digs.
Eide stepped into the setter role midway through the season and has amassed 380 assists. She also has 30 aces and 160 digs.
Broughton has 169 kills and 93 blocks this season to go along with 258 digs and 16 aces.
Hongalo believes her team is well prepared to face top-seeded Northwestern during the opening round of the tournament on Thursday.
“We are excited to match up against Northwestern. It will be a great game to challenge our girls,” she said.
No. 4 Colman-Egan vs. No. 5 Bridgewater-Emery, 2 p.m.
HURON — Colman-Egan put together a 24-3 record to qualify for the first Class B State Tournament appearance in school history during the 2020 season.
“With everything going on, we couldn’t be more thankful to have completed a full season and be ending it at the state tournament,” said Abigail Dockter, who is the head coach for the Hawks. “We’re extremely excited.”
Seniors Braiden Westley and Elizabeth Moore both reached the 1,000-dig milestone this season for Colman-Egan.
Moore has recorded 218 digs this season to go along with 97 kills, 31 aces and 33 blocks for the Hawks. Westly has 193 digs to go along with 82 kills, 330 assists, 22 aces and 64 blocks.
Also serving as starters this season for Colman-Egan have been seniors Olivia Baumberger and Kennedi Landis, along with juniors Mackenzie Hemmer and Hailey Larson.
Baumberger recorded 203 kills this season to go along with 163 digs, 20 aces and 123 blocks, while Landis has 268 assists, 78 digs and 14 aces.
Hemmer had 200 kills, 175 digs, 32 aces and 105 blocks, while Larson added 145 kills, 50 digs, 35 aces and 44 blocks.
The Hawks will battle fifth-seeded Bridgewater-Emery in the opening round on Thursday.
“Our first round will be a close matchup and a very competitive game,” Dockter said. “We weren’t able to play in the regular season, so it will be an exciting game for both teams.”
After making its first state tournament appearance a year ago, Bridgewater-Emery is back at the Class B State Tournament in 2020.
The Huskies put together a 21-2 record this season.
“We’ve had a great year. We lost a lot of talented players in the front row last season and those who have stepped up to fill those roles (Chloe Schmitt,
Morgan Uptagrafft and Casey Meyer) have exceeded expectations this year,” Bridgewater-Emery coach Mary Ernster said. “They, along with last year returners Taylor Schallenkamp, Julia Weber and Kerrigan Schultz are such smart players and read the floor well. What some of them may lack in hitting power, they make up in finesse and smart ball placement.”
Schultz is the lone senior in the starting lineup for the Huskies. She has 1,541 assists this season to go along with 123 kills, 41 aces and 219 digs.
The rest of the starting lineup is made up of juniors.
Weber had a team-high 319 kills this season to go along with 34 aces, 66 blocks and 377 digs this season for Bridgewater-Emery, while Schallenkamp had 171 kills and 22 blocks. Uptagrafft had 88 kills and 10 blocks, while Schmitt had 81 kills and 16 blocks. Casey Meyer finished with 70 kills and nine aces, while Cara Meyer had 23 aces, 92 assists and 241 digs.
Also figuring into the mix for the Huskies are senior Marah Hofer, senior Sara Hofer and junior Kaitlyn Roskens.
“All these ladies come off the bench to play in the regular rotation in the backrow and serve,” Ernster said. “Sara Hofer and Kaitlyn Roskens are among the leaders in ace serves for this season.”
Bridgewater-Emery will meet a familiar foe in the opening round on Thursday.
“I expect our first round to be a really good game. We play Colman-Egan often,” Ernster said. “Our programs know each other. I think that we will be evenly matched up and I think it will be a good one.”
Ernster sees the entire field for the state tournament as being quite competitive.
“I think the tournament is tough this year. I believe the SoDak 16 format has helped ensure that,” she said. “For the most, the best teams in the state are going to the state tournament. It’s exciting to have so much talent in Class B volleyball together.”
No. 3 Chester Area vs. No. 6 Faulkton Area, 5 p.m.
HURON — Chester Area is making its eighth consecutive state tournament appearance and its 14th overall. The Lady Flyers, who won a state title in 2015, were the consolation champions a year ago.
“This year’s Class B Tournament is full of talented volleyball teams,” Chester Area coach Jean O’Hara-Benson said. “It is something to celebrate in just being qualified to play in the tournament and then to remain hopeful that the state volleyball tournaments will be able to be played through to their conclusions and that everyone stays healthy and safe throughout the process.”
The Lady Flyers will be the third seed with a 21-2 record and will face sixth-seeded Faulkton Area in the opening round.
“Faulkton is a very good volleyball team and Peyton Melius is one of South Dakota’s best volleyball players (in any class). She will be a force all on her own,” O’Hara-Benson said. “I expect the match to be a battle and an exciting volleyball match to get to be a part of.”
Senior Kenna Brown has guided the offensive attack for Chester Area from her setter position. She has amassed 773 assists to go along with 14 aces on 217 of 234 serves, 60 kills and 252 digs.
Other seniors in the starting lineup are middle hitter Ella Pry and right-side hitter Jada Becker. Pry has recorded 207 kills, 46 blocks and 31 digs, while Becker has 62 kills, seven blocks and 29 digs.
Also providing power to the attack for the Lady Flyers will be juniors Jayda Kenyon at middle hitter and Breckyn Ewoldt at outside hitter. Kenyon has 179 kills, 66 blocks, 58 digs and 22 aces on 301 of 315 serves, while Ewoldt has 295 kills, 20 blocks and 101 digs.
Rounding out the starting lineup are sophomore Karly Campbell at outside hitter and defensive specialist and seventh-grader Emery Larson at libero.
Camp has 23 aces on 350 of 360 serves, 65 kills and 228 digs, while Larson has 431 digs and was 260 of 265 serving with 10 aces.
Filling key roles off the bench this season have been seventh-grader Lily VanHal (322/351 serving 41 aces kills=15 set assists=21 digs=157); junior Carly Becker (211/230 15 aces digs=105); and sophomore Serena Larson (kills=38).
“The Lady Flyers have been thrilled all season to just be playing volleyball,” O’Hara-Benson said.
After making it to the championship match in 2019, which was their third trip to the Class B State Volleyball Tournament, the Faulkton Area Trojans were eager to make a third consecutive trip this season.
With an 18-5 record, Faulkton Area will be the No. 6 seed and will face third-seeded Chester Area in the opening round on Thursday.
“I think it will be a great match,” said Mallory Schlechter, who serves as head coach for the Trojans. “Chester Area is a very talented team, but I think we can play well with them.”
Faulkton Area will bring a senior-laden starting lineup into the tournament.
Senior Peyton Melius has a team-high 303 kills on 711 of 837 attacks for the Trojans. She also has 16 aces on 195 of 222 serves and 402 digs.
Other seniors in the starting rotation are Taylor Machtemes, Morgan Gutenkauf, Kayla Senn and Ally Cunningham.
Machtemes as 162 kills on 401 of 472 attacks to go along with 18 solo and 36 assisted blocks. Gutenkauf has 465 assists on 1,518 of 1,521 sets to go along with 43 aces on 298 of 324 serving and 164 digs. Senn is 317 of 351 hitting with 100 kills, while Cunninghamm is 206 of 227 serving with 13 aces and has 207 digs.
Other starters for Faulkton Area are juniors Isabel Aesoph and Shayna Heitman.
Aesoph has 417 digs to go along with 242 kills on 654 of 709 attacks. She also recorded 54 aces on 334 of 364 serves had was 635 of 638 setting with 181 assists.
Heitmann has recorded 10 solo and 26 assisted blocks.
“Many of these girls have been a part/playing since our state tournament appearance in 2018,” Schlechter said. “They have good experience and have had the chance to play together for many years.”
Key reserves for the Trojans this season have been senior Molly Koens, junior Sydney Campbell and junior Camryn Deiter
“These girls all play quite a few rotations for us,” Schlechter said. “They have stepped up to take on roles previously held by a strong group of seniors from last season.”
Faulkton Area rallied from a 2-1 deficit to get past Kimball/White Lake in the SoDak 16, so Schlechter is looking for her team to carry that momentum into the state tournament.
“I think this year’s tournament field will be highly competitive,” she said. “Every team has some very strong athletes that will make each matchup a good one.”
No. 2 Warner vs. No. 7 Hitchcock-Tulare, 7 p.m.
HURON — Despite having just two seniors on the roster, Warner will be making its eighth trip to the Class B State Tournament in the past nine years.
Overall, the Monarchs have 11 total appearances in the state tournament with six championships, four runner-up finishes and a third-place finish.
“A highlight for us was getting to play all 20 matches amidst this pandemic,” said coach Kari Jung, who has guided Warner to a 22-1 record this season and the No. 2 seed for the state tourney. “We are super excited that we are able to be a part of the 2020 state tournament.”
The lone blemish on the season record came against top-seeded Northwestern earlier in the season. As the second seed, the Monarchs will face seventh-seeded Hitchcock-Tulare in the opening round.
“We are expecting a very tough first match, as last time we faced them it went five sets,” Jung said. “Hitchcock-Tulare is loaded with talented seniors along with a super athletic 8th grade middle hitter.”
Freshman Ava Nilsson has propelled the offense for Warner from the setter position after earning all-state honors last season. She has 710 assists on 2,009 of 2,024 assists, 53 aces on 361 of 385 serves and 183 digs.
Junior Jennifer Aman is an outside hitter in the starting rotation, while junior Peyton Fisher is a right-side hitter.
Aman has a team-high 318 kills this season on 673 of 814 attacks and five solo and 10 assisted blocks, while Fisher has 204 digs and was 274 of 275 setting with 83 assists.
Rounding out the starting lineup are sophomore Kendyl Anderson, along with freshmen Lauren Marcuson, Kyra Marcuson and Courtney Bjorgaard.
Anderson tallied 155 kills on 407 of 476 attacks, while Lauren Marcuson was 397 of 504 hitting with 158 kills and had 191 digs. Myra Marcuson had 92 kills on 226 of 280 hits and was 133 of 145 serving with 29 aces, while Bjorgaard had 252 digs.
Senior defensive specialist Summer Scepaniak also spent time in the starting lineup and has 38 aces on 231 of 248 serves and 118 digs.
Holli Jark is the other senior on Warner’s roster and played a key role off the bench. She was 324 of 339 serving with 54 aces.
Freshman Morgan Haselhorst also became a major factor in the success this season for the Monarchs.
“She had to step into a starting role to help us through the end of the season and region play as we had a starter in quarantine,” Jung said.
Opposing teams will be seeing double when they face Warner, as two sets of twins suit up for the Monarchs — Kendyl and Kami Anderson and Lauren and Kyra Marcuson.
“Kami was a starting middle hitter until she tore her ACL mid-season,” Jung said. “Lauren and Kyra Marcuson both are starters now.”
Despite having just one loss this season, Jung knows her team will be in for a battle each time it steps on the court during the state tournament.
“This is a very solid group of teams and it will depend on who is “on” in many of these match-ups,” she said. “Teams have a nice mix of strong hitters and scrappy, quick defensive players, so it should be an exciting tournament.”
With six seniors on the roster, Hitchcock-Tulare will be making its first state tournament appearance since the two schools joined forces.
The Lady Patriots are the seventh seed with an 18-4 record and will face second-seeded Warner in the opening round.
“This will be the third time that we have played Warner this season. When I saw what match up that we could potentially have, I felt good about that,” Hitchcock-Tulare coach Jordan Opp said. “We took them to five sets the last time we played them in late October. We walked away feeling like we let that one slip away, so we are going into that match feeling like we might pull an upset and maybe surprise some people.”
Guiding the offensive unit this season for the Lady Patriots has been senior Kenidee Enander from her setter position. She inks 8.4 assists per set with a serving percentage of 92.3 and 64 aces.
“She is a four-year outstanding setter that helps our offense run,” Opp said. She is capable of putting up a good set off of any pass she gets.”
Seniors Dannyn Peterson, Ashley Masat and Cassidy Johnson, along with junior Madison Hofer are a force at the net for Hitchcock-Tulare.
Peterson averages 2.27 kills per set, while having 22 aces on 93.3 serving percentage and 2.51 digs per set to go along with 76 blocks.
“Dannyn has an explosive hit,” Opp said. “We also look at her to get the big block that we need in matches.”
Masat averages 2.07 kills per set with 71 blocks, while Johnson has averages of 1.78 kills and 2.58 digs per sets to go along with an 85.4 serve percentage.
“Ashley is looked upon to get the big kill and help set up the block. She really stepped up in the SoDak 16 match for us,” Opp said. “Cassidy’s game has come on strong down the stretch. Her hitting is a threat on the outside.”
Hofer has averaged 1.51 kills per set with 37 aces on an 91.7 serve percentage and has1.84 digs per set.
“Madison has played consistent all season long,” Opp said.
Senior Kaitlyn Rathjen is the quarterback on the defensive side of the net for the Lady Patriots from her libero spot. She has averaged 2.63 digs per set to go along with 19 aces on a serving percentage of 85.3.
“Kaitlyn really stepped it up in the last few matches for us,” Opp said. “She was a big reason why we won our match against Estelline-Hendricks in the region.”
Opp pointed to Northwestern as being the favorite in a loaded field of teams for the state tournament.
“They have a great team and have been battle-tested all season long,” Opp said of the Wildcats. “In addition, you have Warner, Faulkton Area, Chester Area, and Colman-Egan that could pull of a surprise.
“A lot of the teams have a tradition of being at the state tournament year in and year out,” he said. “It’s going to come down who can string three great matches together and limit the errors.”