When the Lady Tiger volleyball team hits the court in Chamberlain, they will be looking for a milestone win in program history. Since volleyball began in 1988, the Lady Tigers have compiled a 599-360-15 record, making their next win the 600th for the team.
To pull off that win, the Lady Tigers will have to beat a Cubs team that won both times the two teams matched up last year. Chamberlain beat the Lady Tigers 3-0 in Mobridge in last year’s season opener and 2-0 at the Big Dakota Conference Tournament.
To get the season off on the right foot, head coach Rose Henderson and new assistant coach Jessica Flaherty will have to rely on a relatively young, but pretty experienced team.
Henderson said that although the Lady Tigers lost four important players to graduation, “We have an excellent group of players this year for whom we have great expectations.
That group includes a strong junior class that includes All-Big Dakota Conference player Megan Zahn, BDC honorable mention Emily Wientjes, Channing Wientjes, Haley Brockel, Callie Weisbeck, Regan Stoick and Ellie Fried. All seven juniors received appreciable playing time last year. The team has two seniors in TyRel Thompson and Arial Hach, who are new to the Lady Tiger varsity. The sophomores are Landyn Henderson, Ava Stoick and Leah Overland. Henderson and Stoick both earned quality varsity time last year. The lone freshmen to earn a varsity jersey is Emma Keller.
“I anticipate this season as a growing one,” said coach Henderson. “The girls have worked incredibly hard this summer in the weight room to get stronger and faster. They have set high goals this season and will strive to reach them with hard work and drive.”
The home fans will have to wait a while to see the 2019 Lady Tigers on the home court. After Chamberlain, the Lady Tigers are at Herreid/Selby Area and Potter County before they host North Central (new co-op with Eureka, Bowdle and Edmunds Central) on Sept. 10. That will be a busy home week. Leola/Frederick comes to town on Sept. 12 before the Lady Tigers host the annual Mobridge-Pollock Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 14.
After that, the Lady Tigers will get a good look at some of the best competition the state has to offer when they play in the Big Dakota Conference Tournament in Ft. Pierre on Sept. 21. The tourney will feature Winner, who took sixth in state last year, and Miller, who took second in state and has returning South Dakota High School Player of the Year, Kadye Fernolz.
“They are both well coached teams with very athletic players,” said Henderson, “and they are bringing back the majority of their players.”
When the postseason comes around, Miller will be the team to beat in Region 6A.
“They are a well-rounded team with a deep bench,” said Henderson.
After the first homestand, the Lady Tigers will also host Lemmon, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Timber Lake, Ipswich and Linton/HMB. Road dates include Groton Area, Winner, Redfield, Aberdeen Roncalli, Sully Buttes and Warner. The Central South Dakota Conference Tournament is in Gettysburg on Sept. 28. New to the schedule is the Milbank Invitational on Oct. 19.
The Lady Tigers open the new season on Saturday afternoon at Chamberlain. While the Cubs won both meetings last season, the Lady Tigers are 23-9 in the series since the teams first met across the net during the 1998-99 season.
On Tuesday, the Lady Tigers head to Selby to square off against cross-county rival Herreid/Selby Area. The Herreid/Selby Area vs. Mobridge-Pollock rivalry started in 2010 when the teams split a pair of matches. The Lady Tigers lead the series, but the Wolverines have won the last two, including a 3-0 sweep at Mobridge-Pollock High School Gymnasium last August.