MILLER — The Miller Rustlers are returning to the Class A State Volleyball Tournament for the first time since finishing third in 2019.
The Rustlers, who are 32-2, will be the second seed for this year’s event, which begins Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
“I am very proud of the girls and their accomplishments,” Miller coach Linda DeBoer said.
The Rustlers will open the tournament with a 5 p.m., match against seventh-seeded Platte-Geddes, which is 27-7. The teams met midseason with Miller using set scores of 25-12, 27-25 and 25-20 to record the sweep.
“That was a huge win for us, as they were highly ranked when we played,” DeBoer said. “I like the fact that there is some familiarity with their players and their play. They are a very good team with great balance also and two very good hitters and blockers.”
The Rustlers are undefeated this season against Class A opponents, with both of their setbacks coming against Warner, who is the top-seeded team heading into the Class B State Tournament.
DeBoer is looking for her team to continue to do the things it found success with during the regular season.
“I think our dynamic offense, as we don’t have just 1-2 good hitters but several in every rotation that can score,” she said as the key to that success. “The girls’ sense of camaraderie and positiveness on the court and off has helped build a successful team.”
Seniors Ally Mullaney and Jaden Werdel have 306 and 272 kills, respectively, this season for the Rustlers.
Senior Tyra Gates orchestrates the office attack for Miller from her setter position. She has 934 assists this season and will surpass the 2,000 career dig mark during the state tournament.
Freshman Jolie Palmer keys the defense for the Rustlers as the Libero. She has a team-high 452 digs.
“We are very well-rounded,” DeBoer said.
Other seniors on the roster this season for Miller are Tricia Lammers, Mackenzie Kopecky and Ruby Carder.
The Rustlers have finished as the runner-up during three of their 11 previous appearances in the Class A State Tournament. DeBoer is hoping this might be the year for Miller to claim its first state title.
“We will have to control our emotions with this being their first trip to state, play three great matches and utilize all of our athleticism and talent to come out on top,” DeBoer said. “We will need to control our first ball contact, serve aggressively to get teams out of system, and execute on offense while playing consistent defense at the net and back row.
“It will take everyone to perform her role and minimize unforced errors,” she said.
Sioux Falls Christian, which has won the last five Class A titles, will be the fourth seed this year with a 30-5 reocrd. The Chargers will open the tournament against fifth-seeded Dakota Valley (26-7) at 1:15 p.m. Thursday. Wagner is the top seed with a 31-3 record and will face No. 8 Elk Point-Jefferson (24-9) in the opening match at 11:30 a.m., while third-seeded Elkton-Lake Benton (30-3) will play No. 6 Belle Fourche (32-8) at 6:45 p.m.
The consolation semifinals are set for 11:15 a.m., and 1:15 p.m. Friday, followed by the semifinals at 5 and 6:45 p.m.
The seventh-place match will be played at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the consolation title match at 1:15 p.m.; the third-place match at 5 p.m.; and the championship match at 7 p.m.