Lady Tigers beat Miller, win fourth straight 6A title

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By Jay Davis

When the Lady Tigers opened the season, they had goals. The main goal was to take a team with four new starters and keep doing what the three previous Lady Tiger teams had done; win the region and play in the state tournament. The Mobridge-Pollock girls followed through with their goal when they defeated Miller 3-1 in the Region 6A championship game in Gettysburg on Tuesday.
And how does your 2012 Lady Tiger team make you feel, coach Keri Bolduan?
“On top of the world!” said Bolduan.
Nothing was easy about the win that gave the Lady Tigers a regional four-peat. After winning 25-18 in the opener, the Lady Tigers rallied for a 25-21 win in set two. Miller fought back for a 25-16 win in set three before Mobridge-Pollock reassumed control to win set four 25-19 and retain the crown.
“This is one tough group of girls,” said Bolduan. “They dug deep and fought really hard.
An early streak gave the Lady Tigers control of set one. Miller led 6-5 when the Lady Tigers went on a 5-0 run led by Ellie Rabenberg and Kayleigh Henderson kills. Leading 20-16, the Lady Tigers put the game out of reach when Henderson wrapped two aces around a Kady Pinney kill. After Miller scored twice, Pinney ended the first set with a kill.
Set two had the two biggest momentum swings of the night. Mobridge-Pollock led a back-and-forth start 5-4 when Miller went on a huge run to seemingly take the set over. The Rustlers scored nine straight points highlighted by Kristen Peterka and Jamie Mentzer pounding two kills each.
Rabenberg, who served the 5-0 run in set one, took the ball after a Lady Tiger timeout and started a run that turned out to be the key moment of the night. With Rabenberg doing serving honors, the Lady Tigers answered Miller with a 9-0 run of their own, turning a 13-5 deficit into a 14-13 lead. Rabenberg had two aces and Henderson had two blocks during the run. The set stayed on one and two-point swings until Aundrea Kramer took the serve at 20-20. A Henderson kill gave the Lady Tigers the lead. A Kramer ace made it 22-20 and another made it 24-20. Rabenberg ended the set with crosscourt smash as the Lady Tigers took a commanding 2-0 lead.
“Every time the girls got in a little bit of a funk, they would look each other in the eyes and turn it around,” said Bolduan.
With their 2-0 lead, the Lady Tigers lost their edge for a set, while Miller used desperation as fuel. The Lady Tigers had 10 bad serves on the night. It seemed all 10 came in set three. Miller took advantage and pulled away from an 11-11 tie to take a three-point lead at 18-15. That was followed by a 6-1 run that upped the ante to 24-16 and eventually a 25-17 win.
The Lady Tigers would not succumb to pressure. They quickly seized the advantage in set four with a 4-1 run to open the game. An Ariel Bieber kill and two Pinney aces fueled the fast start. A Callie Slater block and kills by Pinney and Rabenberg ignited a 6-2 run that gave the Lady Tigers a 15-10 lead as the feeling that the title was not far away started making its presence known in the Gettysburg gym. Miller fought back to get within two at 18-16, but there was no catching the Lady Tigers. Rabenberg hit a kill to make it 19-16 and then took over service for four straight points that went like this: Kramer kill 20-16; Rabenberg ace 21-16; Rabenberg ace 22-16; Henderson kill 23-16.
Miller scored three straight to get to 23-19, but then hit one into the net. With game, set and match point up for the taking, Slater sent a pass to Pinney on the left side. Pinney met the ball at mid arc and pounded a kill down the sideline, ending the match and sending the Lady Tigers to their fourth straight state tournament.
The field is set for the 2012 State A Volleyball Tournament at the Civic Arena in Watertown Nov. 15 through 17. Every favorite avoided the upset, so even with a 23-6 record the Lady Tigers enter as the number eight seed. That means Mobridge-Pollock will open the proceedings in Watertown when they square off against number one seed Belle Fourche at noon on Thursday.

Miller (16-13)                          18 21 25 19
Mobridge-Pollock (23-6)         25 25 16 25
Miller: Serving 75-84, 5 aces (Jansen Hunter 14-16-2, Jaden Kellogg 23-24, Jamie Mentzer 11-12); Setting 159-159, 31 assists (Denae Schlecter 124-124-31); Hitting 146-159, 36 kills (Kristen Peterka 37-41-13, Mentzer 33-40-10); Blocks 4 (Mentzer 3); Digs 84 (Mentzer 21, Emma Steers 18).
Mobridge-Pollock: Serving 70-80, 11 aces (Ellie Rabenberg 17-20-4, Aundrea Kramer 18-20-2, Maranda Wagner 15-15-1); Setting 85-87, 26 assists (Callie Slater 78-80-24); Hitting 62-75, 32 kills (Kayleigh Henderson 14-16-11, Kady Pinney 15-21-9, Ellie Rabenberg 22-25-7); Blocks 10 (Henderson 5, Ariel Bieber 2); Digs 57 (Wagner 20).

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