By Jay Davis
The Lady Tigers used a win over Milbank on Friday to finish sixth at the State A Volleyball Tournament in Sioux Falls over the weekend.
After suffering a 3-0 defeat to Dakota Valley in the opening round, the Lady Tigers rallied to sweep Milbank in the consolation semifinals. They could not stay with Sioux Valley and were defeated 3-0 in the consolation championship on Saturday.
“The girls tried very hard. We just had some good competition and came up short,” said coach Rose Henderson. “These young ladies had an exceptional season and they should not hang their heads at all. They exceeded my expectations and I am very proud of all that they accomplished.”
Sioux Valley had scoring runs at the right times in all three sets in defeating the Lady Tigers 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 in the consolation championship match on Saturday.
“We struggled with a few of their rotations where we allowed them to have big runs,” said Henderson, “and in the game of rally scoring, and at that level, you can’t allow big runs. They are hard to come back from.”
The Cossacks took over midway through the first set and went on to win by seven points. The Lady Tigers looked to take momentum when they jumped out to a 7-0 lead in set two. But Sioux Valley fought back to tie the set at 15-15. The Lady Tigers forged a 21-19 lead before the Cossacks ended the set on a 6-1 run. Set three was tight until Sioux Valley used a 7-1 run to turn an 18-17 set into a 25-18 win.
“I really thought we had the second set in our hands, but Sioux Valley did a great job of coming back and taking us out of our game,” said Henderson. “We had a hard time knowing where their setter was going to set the ball, because they ran a lot faster attacks and also had some crossing patterns which we haven’t seen a lot of.”
Alexa Schaefbauer led the Lady Tigers with nine kills, 17 digs and an ace. Lauren Henderson had eight kills, eight digs and a block. Grace Jensen led all servers with three aces and added three kills. Cassi Heumiller dished out a match-leading 25 assists. Kylee Wagner was second on defense with 12 digs.
Nikole Ziegler led Sioux Valley with 13 kills. Tiffany Bjorklund had 11 kills and Carley Peterson had 10. Bjorklund led the defense with 22 digs. Kaylee Granum and Rachel Miller had 21 assists.
The Lady Tigers took over midway through the first set and controlled Milbank for a 25-21, 25-18, 25-16 win in the consolation semifinals on Friday.
“The girls came out our second match fired up and ready to go,” said Henderson. “We had scouted them the night before and were ready for their big hitters. They executed our game plan to a tee, which allowed us to string points together and keep us ahead.”
The first set was tied at 11-all when the Lady Tigers went on an 8-1 run to take a 19-12 lead. The Bulldogs fought back to get within 21-20, but the Lady Tigers reassumed momentum and ended the first set on a 4-1 run.
Sets two and three were all Lady Tigers. An eight-point run in set two gave the Lady Tigers a 9-4 lead. That lead grew to double digits at 18-8 and 20-10 before the Lady Tigers settled for the seven-point win. Set three was close at 12-9 when the Lady Tigers ran away by scoring eight of the next nine points. Milbank would not threaten in the second half of the set.
“We did a much better job against Milbank in picking up their hits and then hitting the ball harder and more consistently,” said Henderson. “We also used our ball placement better, which kept Milbank on their heels and did not allow them to set up their offense.
Schaefbauer had a big afternoon for the Lady Tigers with match-high totals of 11 kills and 20 digs. Henderson was right behind with nine kills, while Wagner recorded five. Heumiller dished out 33 assists. Jensen ripped off three aces.
The defense was stout around the court. After Schaefbauer’s 20 digs, Wagner had 17, Jensen 13, Henderson 10 and Sam Good Shield 10. At the net, Grace Wollman stuffed Milbank with 4.5 blocks.
Rachelle Gabriel led Milbank with 10 kills and four blocks. Mikaela Hoeke had 14 assists, 15 digs and two aces. Mackayla Schuelke led with three aces.
Things did not go well from the beginning in the opening round loss to Dakota Valley. The third-seeded Panthers were a matchup problem with one player at 5 feet, 11 inches tall and four more at 5’10” competing against a Lady Tigers team that topped out at 5’9”.
Dakota Valley took over from the onset and went on to sweep the Lady Tigers 25-14, 25-17, 25-16.
“The girls started out against Dakota Valley a little timid and with a lot of nerves,” said Henderson. “It think they got a little intimidated by their size, and the size of the venue. We had a tough time getting our offense going.”
Henderson added that a big part of the problem was the Panthers.
“I give credit to Dakota Valley,” said Henderson. “They served us tough and that took us away from a faster offense because we couldn’t get a really good pass up to Cassi. We just didn’t play a very consistent game of volleyball that match. We were too up and down.”
Henderson thought it was compounded by having a group of girls who had never played in such a big venue as the new Premier Center.
“Some of their (Dakota Valley’s) size played a part in our inconsistency, but I think it had more to do with a big open space and big crowds,” said Henderson. “It’s hard to get used to that type of venue even with an hour of practice the day before. It was a great venue, but there is a lot of open space you look at and it’s hard to focus on the ball.
Like the score, the numbers sided with Dakota Valley. The Panthers had 35 kills to 19 for the Lady Tigers. Assist numbers were 32 to 17 and ace numbers were six to three.
Henderson and Wollman shared hitting honors with seven kills each. Schaefbauer added three and led the defense with 11 digs. Heumiller had 13 assists and eight digs. Good Shield led serving with two aces and added seven digs.
Meredith Lammers led Dakota Valley with 15 kills and nine digs. Elizabeth Lammers added seven kills and five digs. Hanna Cummins set with 29 assists. Shayla Johnson had two aces and two blocks.
Following the tournament, Schaefbauer was named to the all-tournament team. The 5’4” senior had 48 digs (5.3 per set, fourth among all defenders) and 23 kills (14th among all hitters).
“Alexa did an outstanding job for us at state,” said Henderson. “She played really consistent volleyball in the front and back rows. I think she surprised the other teams with how well she could hit and place the ball. She doesn’t let her height slow her down when she is in the front row. She is a baller and plays with a lot of intensity.”
Schaefbauer is joined on the all-tourney team by: Shelby Zomermaand, Ellie Voss and Emily Strasser of state champion Sioux Falls Christian; Mikayla Weiss, Makaela Karst and Megan Bultsma of runner-up Mt. Vernon/Plankinton; Ashton Burditt and Shelby Dittman of third-place Spearfish; Meredith Lammers of fourth-place Dakota Valley; Tiffany Bjorklund of fifth-place Sioux Valley; and Mikaela Hoeke of seventh-place Milbank.
Mobridge-Pollock (24-8) 18 22 18
Sioux Valley (26-8) 25 25 25
Mobridge-Pollock: Serving 6 aces (Grace Jensen 3, Sam Good Shield 2, Alexa Schaefbauer 1); Setting 25 assists (Cassi Heumiller 25); Hitting 30 kills (Schaefbauer 9, Lauren Henderson 8, Kylee Wagner 5, Grace Wollman 5, Jensen 3); Blocks 3 (Wollman 1, Henderson 1, Heumiller .5, Wagner .5); Digs 59 (Schaefbauer 17, Wagner 12, Henderson 8, Heumiller 7, Good Shield 7, Jensen 4, Wollman 4).
Sioux Valley: Serving 3 aces (Ellen Jensen 2, Tiffany Bjorklund 1); Setting 43 assists (Kaylee Granum 21, Rachel Miller 21, Shaylee Mumby) 1; Hitting 46 kills (Nikole Ziegler 13, Bjorklund 11, Carley Peterson 10, Jessica Pepperman 5, Mumby 5, Miller 2); Blocks 7.5 (Mumby 2.5, Pepperman 2, Peterson 1.5, Ziegler 1, Miller .5); Digs 67 (Bjorklund 22, Jensen 11, Granum 5, Pepperman 5, Miller 5, Ziegler 3, Mumby 3, Peterson 1).
Milbank (17-12) 21 18 16
Mobridge-Pollock (24-7) 25 25 25
Milbank: Serving 7 aces (Mackayla. Schuelke 3, Mikaela Hoeke 2, Caryssa Mielitz 1, Katie Cannedy 1); Setting 19 assists (Hoeke 14, Schuelke 4, Madi Schulte 1); Hitting 20 kills (Rachelle Gabriel 10, Mielitz 8, Molly Rick 1, Hoeke 1); Blocks 4 (Gabriel 4); Digs 68 (Schulte 16, Hoeke 15, Mielitz 11, Rick 9, Schuelke 8, Cannedy 7, Gabriel 2).
Mobridge-Pollock: Serving 4 aces (Grace Jensen 3, Alexa Schaefbauer 1); Setting 36 assists (Cassi Heumiller 33, Schaefbauer 1, Kylee Wagner 1, Grace Wollman 1); Hitting 36 kills (Schaefbauer 11, Lauren Henderson 9, Wagner 5, Jensen 4, Wollman 4, Heumiller 3); Blocks 7 (Wollman 4.5, Henderson 1, Jensen 1, Wagner .5); Digs 78 (Schaefbauer 20, Wagner 17, Jensen 13, Sam Good Shield 10, Henderson 10, Heumiller 7, Wollman 1).
Mobridge-Pollock (23-7) 14 17 16
Dakota Valley (27-4) 25 25 25
Mobridge-Pollock: Serving 3 aces (Sam Good Shield 2, Kylee Wagner 1); Setting 17 assists (Cassi Heumiller 13, Grace Jensen 2, Alexa Schaefbauer 1, Kylee Wagner 1); Hitting 19 kills (Lauren Henderson 7, Grace Wollman 7, Schaefbauer 3, Wagner 1, Jensen 1); Blocks 3 (Henderson 1.5, Wagner 1, Wollman .5); Digs 39 (Schaefbauer 11, Heumiller 8, Good Shield 7, Jensen 5, Henderson 4, Wagner 3, Wollman 1).
Dakota Valley: Serving 6 aces (Shayla Johnson 2, Katie Soukup 1, Hanna Cummins 1, Anne McCabe 1, Elizabeth Lammers 1); Setting 32 assists (Cummins 29, S. Johnson 1, Meredith Lammers 1, E. Lammers 1); Hitting 35 kills (M. Lammers 15, E. Lammers 7, Taylor Hauger 5, McCabe 4, S. Johnson 3, Cummins 1); Blocks 5 (S. Johnson 2, Hauger 1.5, E. Lammers 1, McCabe .5); Digs 38 (M. Lammers 9, S. Johnson 6, Alyssa Johnson 6, McCabe 5, E. Lammers 5, Soukup 4, Hauger 1, Cummins 1, Brittney Fischer 1).