Miller set for run at Class A Tournament
MILLER — After putting together a 28-6 record this season, the Miller Rustlers will enter the Class A State Volleyball Tournament as the third seed.
The season-ending event will begin Thursday in Summit Arena at the Monument in Rapid City and continue through Saturday.
“There are six girls returning to state this year off of last year’s fourth-place team, so I am expecting some nerves from the younger ones, who will be experiencing playing on such a big stage,” said. Miller coach Linda DeBoer.
The Rustlers will begin their run claiming the firs state volleyball title in the school’s history with a 6:45 p.m. MT, match against sixth-seeded Wagner, which is 26-6.
“We are happy to be playing at night to give our fans time to travel Thursday and it will hopefully feel like a regular season match regarding the evening time,” DeBoer said of her team’s tourney opener. “We have not seen them in person since a team camp this summer and we know how big they are on the net. Our hustle, defense, serving, and first ball contact will continue to be our focuses.”
Miller will be making its 13th overall appearance in the state tournament. In previous years the Rustlers have a go-to player or players to guide them towards the title.
DeBoer says this year’s team has used a different approach to find success.
“Balance has been key to this year’s success. Each match, we have different players step up and lead on the court and in the stat columns,” she said. “Hustle and heart have also been important to our serving and defense, which have helped the team win so many matches this season.”
Seniors Heather Resel and Shaylee Anderberg served as captains this season for the Rustlers. Resel recorded 38 ace serves this season, which ranks third on the team, behind Anderberg, who had 48 aces and 225 kills.
Seniors Journey Palmer and Cassidy VanDerWerff also filled leadership roles for Miller.
“They have become the team’s breakdown leaders and motivational specialists,” DeBoer said.
Journey Palmer ranks third on the team with 226 digs.
Sophomore Jolie Palmer had a team-high 65 aces this season, while also contributing heavily on the defensive side of the net with 568 digs.
“She sees the court and reads the opponent so well,” DeBoer said of Jolie Palmer.
Leading the offensive attack this season for the Rustlers was junior Aleah Schlechter with a team-high 316 kills. Sophomore Paige Werdel was second with 241 kills.
Sophomore Kate Lichty has 10 solo and 56 block assists this season for Miller, while Gracen Werdel had 10 solo and 50 assisted blocks and Schlechter had nine solo and 50 assisted blocks.
Sioux Falls Christian is the defending Class A champion and will enter this year’s tournament as the top seed with a 32-4 record. The Chargers will face eighth-seeded Lennox in the opening game of the event at 11 a.m. MT on Thursday.
Platte-Geddes is the No. 4 seed with a 31-6 mark and will face fifth-seeded Dell Rapids, which is 26-6, in the opening round at 12:45 p.m. MT on Thursday.
In the other half of Miller’s bracket, second-seeded Rapid City Christian, which is 33-5, will face seventh-seeded Dakota Valley (19-10) at 5 p.m. MT on Thursday.
The consolation semifinals will be held at 11 a.m. MT and 12:45 p.m. MT on Friday. The semifinals are slated for 5 and 6:45 p.m. MT on Friday.
The final day of the tournament on Saturday will begin with the seventh-place match at 11 a.m. MT. The consolation championship will be decided at 12:45 p.m. MT, followed by the third-place match at 5 p.m. MT and the championship match at 7:45 p.m. MT.
The Class A Tournament will air live online at sdpb.org/volleyball and on YouTube throughout the duration of the event. The evening session on Saturday will air on SDPB2-TV.