Connect with us
Dacotah Bank


Castlewood returns to B tourney with experienced squad

Presley Knecht of Castlewood plays a ball in a Class B SoDak 16 match against Philip last week at James Valley Christian. Castlewood meets Colman-Egan tonight in the State B tournament in Rapid City. Photo by Mike Carroll/Huron Daily Plainsman

CASTLEWOOD – The Castlewood Warriors are back in the state volleyball tournament, but they are entering it with a much different feel this time around.

The Warriors (21-8) finished sixth place at last year’s state tourney. Coach Breanna DeKam said last year’s experience will help the team entering this weekend.

“It’s definitely helpful to know what’s going on,” DeKam said. “We all kind of felt last year like we were all going into the tournament blind almost. We didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know how it was all going to work.”

DeKam said the team feels ready for this year’s tournament.

“We know what to expect, we know how the environment’s going to be, and that’s so helpful,” DeKam said. “We know what the gym is like and the floor is like, so just the little things like that helps us become a little bit more calm this year going into it.”

DeKam said the team has experienced a few highs and lows this season; however, the team has worked hard to improve.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, some games that we went in feeling very confident in and coming out feeling disappointed with the outcome,” DeKam said. “We’ve had some good mental battles, but overall, we’ve been stable and working really hard.”

Castlewood has been led by the strong hitting of Presley Knecht, Emerson Carter, and Cassidy Kirwan. Knecht leads the team with 467 kills, as well as 39 aces, and DeKam said other players look to her when the team needs a big play.

“She’s the one we look to when we’re kind of struggling,” DeKam said. “She can be the one to kind of find the point easily.”

Carter has contributed 249 kills, 39 solo blocks, and 41 block assists, while Kirwan has added 173 kills. Gracie Haug, who DeKam called “the glue to the team,” leads the Warriors with 845 set assists and 334 digs.

Castlewood’s Gracie Haug sets a ball in a match against Philip during Class B SoDak 16 action last week at James Valley Christian. Photo by Mike Carroll/Huron Daily Plainsman

“She’s always encouraging and motivating, and she’s our setter, so she runs the offense,” DeKam said. “She’s really stepped up and been a huge motivator for the team.”

The Warriors began the season 8-1 before hitting a rough patch in the season, going 6-7 in their next 13 matches. Since then, the Warriors have found the hot hand, winning the last seven contests en route to the state tournament, giving up just one set in those seven matches.

Despite the up and down season, DeKam said the key has been learning how to work together.

“We had a lot of new players this year, a lot of seniors that we have on the team, and just finding the groove and have them work together,” DeKam said.

Castlewood’s last loss came at the hands of their first-round opponent, Colman-Egan. The two Dakota Valley Conference foes know each other well as the two faced off in last year’s Class B state tournament in the consolation semifinals, which resulted in a Castlewood win in four sets.

This season, the Hawks have beaten the Warriors three times without surrendering a set.

Colman-Egan defeated Castlewood in the Hamlin Tournament and Dakota Valley Conference Tournament, as well as in a regular season match in Castlewood. DeKam said her team knows the Hawks well going into the tournament.

“They are a really good team. They’re very competitive, they have some really good hitters, and they’re a scrappy team,” DeKam said. “We know what they’re like, we know some of their habits and stuff, but we’re just focusing on how can we play to the best of our ability, too.”

Going into tonight’s match, DeKam said the biggest challenge will be staying in the game mentally.

“It’s definitely going to have to be a tougher mental game. In a lot of those sets (against Colman-Egan) we got down on ourselves, we were kind of taking ourselves out of the game mentally, so mental game is huge for us,” DeKam said. “Also, keeping serves in, finding the right defense that will work for that team, so we’ve been working on things like that, but the biggest thing is staying mentally in the game.”

Castlewood and Colman-Egan will square off at 6:45 p.m. (MST) at the Summit Arena in Rapid City.

Purchase a Photo

Browse By Category

Browse By Month

Dacotah Bank

More in Volleyball

Subscribe Today!