ABERDEEN — Peyton Groft’s place on the Class B All-State Volleyball team is a familiar space, one she has occupied for the past three years.
This year, the Grofts made it a family affair, as Madalyn Groft joined her sister on the seven-player first team after the pair helped lead Northwestern to their second straight Class B state championship.
Peyton and Madalyn are joined on the first team All-State squad by Peyton Ellingson of Warner, Hanna Reiff and Jadon Wages of Chester Area, Charlie Tisdall of Herreid/Selby Area and Ady Dwight of Langford Area.
“Peyton has been first-team all-state since her sophomore year,” said Northwestern coach Nora Groft. “As the younger sister, Madalyn has tried very hard to reach Peyton’s level of play. Peyton is very accomplished in many areas of her life — academics, athletics, etc. — and Madalyn has spent most of her life just trying to keep up. So, it’s nice to see Madalyn finally coming into her own. I am very proud of both of them. Coaching the two of them and their friends in volleyball has been the absolute greatest joy of my life.”
The elder sister has played a key role, not just in Northwestern’s success, but in her younger sister’s development.
“Peyton has been a very good leader for Madalyn to follow in regards to work ethic and commitment,” Nora Groft said. “The two have pushed each other to become better. For example, last year when we got home after the district semifinal match, Peyton took Madalyn into the gym and hit balls at her for an hour and a half because she knew Warner was going to go after Maddie defensively. The next night, the two sisters combined for 67 digs to help our team win.”
That experience and preparation was crucial for the Wildcats, who met up with Warner in the state championship. It was a much-anticipated meeting, and the first time the two Class B powerhouse programs, who reside less than 15 miles from each other, have met in the championship match.
The Monarchs were led — physically and emotionally — by the likes of Ellingson, a powerhouse hitter who made a remarkable return to the court after injuries interrupted her junior campaign.
Warner went 30-5 behind Ellingson, who was named as Class B’s Miss Volleyball recipient.
“Peyton’s energy and powerful attack were a great combination for our team to be successful,” said Warner coach Kari Jung. “She was playing her best volleyball late in the season when we needed her to.”
Chester Area represented Warner’s stiffest competition on the path to the state championship game. A youth-laden squad, the Flyers were led by a pair of juniors in Reiff and Wages.
Reiff anchored the back line for the Flyers, who finished third at the Class B tournament.
“Hanna Reiff is just such a stable defensive player,” said Flyers’ head coach Jean Benson. “I’m glad I get the privilege of coaching her instead of having to coach against her. She does a great job of reading hitters.”
As solid as Reiff was in the back line, it was Wages leading the way in the front, often reaping the benefits of Reiff’s defensive efforts.
“(Wages) was probably our go-to girl,” Benson said. “If we needed somebody to make a big play, we were asking Jadon to do that. But she was also second on our team in digs, so we relied on her all the way around. She’s a hard worker, just a gritty kid. Strong and tough.
Tisdall was the engine that drove Herreid/Selby Area’s fourth place finish at the Class B state tournament. The Wolverines finished with just two regular-season losses, thanks to the talent and leadership of Tisdall.
“If our team members were like pieces of a puzzle, Charlie would be the border,” said Herreid/Selby Area coach Jody Schmidt. “She served as our guide and kept everyone together. Her successes came from the successes of others and her competitiveness was contagious. She brought out the best in others.”
Dwight is the lone First Team selection that did not play in the state tournament. However, Dwight’s athleticism and talent helped spur a significant turn-around for Langford Area.
“Ady was definitely the driving force behind much of our success,” said Langford Area coach Susan Larson. “She is a great player and passionate about the game. She was definitely our go-to girl on offense. She strives for success and got the players around her to do the same.”
Class B All-State Team
as selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association
Peyton Ellingson, Warner (senior, middle hitter) — 336 kills, 72 blocks, 75 digs, 17 service aces.
Peyton Groft, Northwestern (senior, libero) — 410 digs, 57 assists, 57 service aces.
Madalyn Groft, Northwestern (sophomore, setter) — 1,062 assists, 239 digs, 139 kills, 55 service aces, 29 blocks.
Hanna Reiff, Chester Area (junior, libero) — 955 digs, 46 service aces.
Jadon Wages, Chester Area (junior, outside hitter) — 406 kills, 498 digs, 46 blocks, 28 service aces.
Charlie Tisdall, Herreid/Selby Area (senior, outside hitter) — 425 kills, 417 digs, 48 service aces, 32 blocks.
Ady Dwight, Langford Area (sophomore, middle hitter) — 343 kills, 148 digs, 28 service aces.
Jeryn Christensen, Arlington (junior, libero)
Taylee Indahl, Burke/South Central (sophomore, middle/outside hitter)
Shaylee DeBeer, Deubrook Area (junior, middle hitter/setter)
Cyler Lurz, Philip (junior, middle hitter)
Heather Kayser, Hanson (senior, setter)
Baylee Enander, Hitchcock-Tulare (senior, outside hitter)
Brooklyn Slaba, Hanson (senior, outside hitter)
Kelsey Pearson, Waubay/Summit (senior, outside hitter)
Amelia Stone, Alcester-Hudson (senior, middle hitter)
Camryn Shockley, Lemmon (senior, outside hitter)
Rachel Guthmiller, Sully Buttes (senior, middle hitter)
Chester Area’s Jadon Wages volleys the ball during a Sweet 16 match Nov. 7 against Timber Lake at Huron Arena.
Next, Hanna Reiff of Chester Area passes the ball during a Sweet 16 match against Timber Lake on Nov. 7 at Huron Arena.
And next, Hitchcock-Tulare’s Baylee Enander passes the ball during a match against Miller on Sept. 21 in Hitchcock.
Photos by Mike Carroll/Plainsman