Led by the duo of hitter Kristin Stern and setter Stacy Smidt, top-ranked Sioux Falls Christian defeated Pine Ridge 25-14, 25-12, 25-14 on Thursday in the first round of the state Class A volleyball tournament.
Stern had 18 kills and five aces, while Smidt had 34 set assists and four aces.
“We wanted to come out aggressive, and I thought the girls really hit the ball well tonight.” SFC coach Darci Wassenaar said. “They attacked the ball aggressively.”
Wassenaar said her team knows how important is to play well in the first match of a state tourney. By doing so, it can set a positive tone for the rest of the way.
“You just never know what to expect from that first match,” she said. “You don’t know what your girls will play like and how the other team will play and react. You just want to play well, hard and aggressive. And I thought our girls did that tonight.”
Smidt said she and her teammates focus each match on executing the details. She was happy with the way her team did that in the opening round.
“It is exciting to be in the semifinals,” said Smidt, who is in her third year on the varsity. “It is always fun to win a match like this, but especially when you are a senior.”
Smidt said SFC knows that every year is different, every season brings a new Chargers’ team and that past accomplishments don’t win volleyball matches. “Each year, we know we have to come out hard and play our best,” she said. “We know it is never going to be easy.”
Even though it looked like Thursday night might be easy, there were times where the young Pine Ridge team put up resistance. Brittany Backward recorded an ace for the Thorpes to leave them trailing 7-4 in the second game and Cortez Standing Bear had a nice block for a point during the third game when Pine Ridge started to gain some momentum about midway through the game.
But in the end, Sioux Falls Christian (24-2) dominated the net. Helping the Chargers play so well at the net were Shelby Zomermaand (eight kills, three block assists), Jordyn Oostra (seven kills, two block assists) and Miranda Velgersdyk (seven kills).
Cassandra Black Horn led Pine Ridge with four kills. Teammate JoBeth Morrisette added eight digs and two aces.
“We are so young,” Pine Ridge coach Nellie Long said. “I told them that by playing the defending champions in the first round, they are going to come out strong and use their experience against us. I told our girls that we can be just as competitive, but all that experience Sioux Falls had was hard to overcome tonight.”
Sioux Falls Christian will play second-ranked Dakota Valley in the semifinals at 7:45 tonight. Both of DV’s losses this season have come in straight sets to Christian. Pine Ridge (27-4) will play Sisseton in the consolation semifinals at 1:45 p.m.
DAKOTA VALLEY DEF. SISSETON 25-9, 25-15, 25-12 – The Black Panthers (24-2) got 13 kills from Jayde Bergmann and nine each from Erica Johnson and Morganne Pfaffle. Hannah Bauer had 13 digs and Johnson 11. Lindsey Smith had 35 set assists. For Sisseton (20-7), Emily Weatherstone and Brianna Medenwald each had four kills. Cami Goodhart had seven set assists and Savanna Haanen had six digs.
BELLE FOURCHE DEF. SIOUX VALLEY 25-10, 26-24, 25-9 – The fourth-ranked Broncs (30-3) won as Fehrin Ward had 11 kills and Liz Day had 31 set assists. Taylor Gubbrud had 13 digs and Nicole Kling 10. Morgan Ham had two solo blocks and two block assists. Ham had five aces and Ward four. Belle Fourche overcame a 24-20 deficit to win Set 2. For Sioux Valley (19-12), Mariah VanderWal had eight kills, Tiffany Bjorklund eight digs and Lauren Buisker 12 set assists.
WINNER DEF. WAGNER 25-18, 25-22, 13-25, 25-14 – Lindsey Calhoon had 14 kills and 14 digs and Kelsey Bertram 10 kills and 14 digs to power the third-ranked Warriors (26-3) past fifth-ranked Wagner. Cassidy Hanson had 18 digs, Emily Richey 17 and Sara Husher 12. Tawny Sherman had two solo blocks and three block assists and Husher had 40 set assists. Hanson had three aces. For Wagner (26-7), Gina Soukup had 15 kills and 11 digs. Emily Brunsing added 11 kills. Brooklyn Tolliver had 22 digs, Delaynie Dickerson 19, Kim Koupal 18 and Kayla Deurmier 14. Kathleen Juffer had three solo blocks and one block assist, and Deurmier had 40 set assists. Dickerson had five aces.