Aside from an opening-set scare, defending champion Roosevelt didn’t have much trouble with seventh-seeded Watertown on Thursday, defeating in the Arrows 25-23, 25-15, 25-16 at the Corn Palace.
The second-seeded Rough Riders continue their title defense tonight against Huron, a team they didn’t see during the regular season, and they might not be able to afford the low energy they came out with in Thursday’s match.
“We can’t pick and choose who we’re going to be aggressive against,” said Roosevelt coach Holly Lynch. “We’re at that point in the season where we’re going to have to come out with full aggression against any team we play. Looking at Huron, they’re super athletic and they’re fired up getting to the semifinals.”
The Riders’ duo of Maggie DeJong and Tagyn Larson paced the win as they have all season with DeJong recording 15 kills and 10 digs and Larson, playing with a stress fracture in her foot, notching 11 kills and nine digs.
However, that didn’t stop Watertown (13-11) from taking an early stand, going toe-to-toe with a Roosevelt team that defeated them in two previous meetings. Following 11 ties in the first set, Watertown pulled ahead 23-22 as Lynch called a timeout to halt a quick, three-point run. That would be the extent of the threat, though, as Roosevelt (26-8) claimed the next three points and the set.
“We had a little first-game jitters and then we finally started to click toward the end. But we definitely did not play our best,” said junior right side Madison Tyler.
Although the Arrows would keep it close early in the second, Roosevelt pulled away with a trio of four-point stretches, including the final points of the set. The third played out much of the same way as Watertown struggled to climb back after keeping the Riders from stringing together points.
“Once they get going on their runs and we make a few errors, it’s tough to get that mental focus,” said Watertown coach Kim Rohde. “I thought the girls did play well, but we lost our confidence a little bit.”
Macy Denzer led the Arrows with 10 kills and 14 digs, while Chelsey Borkhuis had 22 assists and Megan Pfeifer 12 digs.
Meanwhile, Erinn Temple added 34 assists and Jennifer Lindgren 10 digs for the Riders, who came to life over the final two sets to chase down balls and keep rallies going – an effort that needs to come out sooner tonight against the Tigers.
“They were really scrappy tonight,” said Rohde. “They got a lot of touches on our hits and when a team can get a touch on a block, they’re defense can get it and pass it up. They went after some balls that were pretty amazing.”
Huron tops Rapid City Stevens in straight sets
Asia King had 16 kills and Kelly McCarty 32 assists as the third-seeded Huron Tigers swept sixth-seeded Rapid City Stevens 25-22, 25-20, 25-22.
Lizzy Katz added 15 digs and Bailey Rathjen 13 for Huron, which had nine aces. Halee Allerdings had nine kills and eight digs.
For RCS, Cassidy Steele had nine kills and Taylor Molstad eight. Sydney Daane recorded 23 assists, Skylar Larson 12 digs and Madison Larson 11.