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Dell Rapids outmaneuvers Miller for third place in Class A

Miller’s Jolie Palmer, center, passes a ball as teammate Shaylee Anderberg, back center, during Saturday’s Class A third place match against Dell Rapids at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. Photo by John Davis taken 11/18/2023

RAPID CITY – In a contest that resembled a chess match as much as a volleyball match, Dell Rapids was always one move ahead of Miller Saturday night.

The Quarriers jumped in front early and then held off a late rally to claim third place in the Class A State Volleyball Tournament with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 victory.

“They were trying to make adjustments, we were making adjustments, it became like a chess match with each team trying to better the next ball and make the better play,” said Miller coach Linda DeBoer. “I think our girls were playing really well and making good adjustments, it just was that we couldn’t get over the hump. We just ran out of time.”

Dell Rapids forced the Rustlers to make some moves after bolting out to a 14-4 lead to start the opening set. The second set was a repeat of the first as the Quarriers again built a double-digit advantage thanks in part to their quick-strike offense.

“You really have got to watch the setter and where she is going to go with that ball,” said Miller libero Jolie Palmer, “because all the hitters are ready to hit, so you never really know.”

The Rustlers adjusted to that pace of play and ended up getting back into the match midway through the third set. Miller’s Aleah Schlechter said it all started by being able to handle the Dell Rapids serves.

“I think our serve receive, which is mainly what got us back in right away, we hadn’t really seen tempo serves like that, so we had to adjust to that and our defense started to pick it up,” Schlechter said. “We were slow at the beginning, so when we got those touches at the net and we were diving for those balls, I think that’s what really got us back in it.”

Schlechter played a key role in the comeback, finding open holes on the Dell Rapids side of the floor on the way to her team-leading seven kills.

Miller’s Aleah Schlechter, center, tries to hit the ball past Dell Rapids’ Lauryn Kloth, left and Sophi Randall, right, during Saturday’s Class A third place match at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. Photo by John Davis taken 11/18/2023

“I just started to listen to my teammates more,” Schlechter said. “We started talking, communicating better, so I knew where to go and how to get it around the block, and I tried to throw in some off-speed shots to keep their defense guessing.”

Palmer, who had a match-high three aces, also helped to ignite the Miller offense from the behind the service line. She said she used a variety of serves to help keep the Quarriers off balance.

“My float serve kind of got them off. I think they struggled a little bit with the seam serves,” Palmer said. “They were obviously making mistakes, too. Their communication probably wasn’t the best.”

The Rustlers eventually jumped in front at 18-16 in the third set, but were unable to maintain the lead as Dell Rapids finished off the sweep.

“I was very proud of the way our girls continued to show some heart and keep making good adjustments, and trying to just better the ball and find our rhythm,” DeBoer said. “They move the ball really, really fast and so our defense had to adjust.”

Miller’s Kate Lichty, center, reaches to hit the ball as Dell Rapids’ Kylee Fiddelke, left and Lauryn Kloth, right, defend the net during Saturday’s Class A third place match at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. Looking on for the Rustlers are Heather Resel, far left, Jolie Palmer, back center and Shaylee Anderberg, far right. Photo by John Davis taken 11/18/2023

The match was played in front of thousands of spectators. Schlechter talked about the environment of playing on championship night at the state tournament.

“It’s amazing to play in front of a crowd like this, honestly,” she said, “to know that there’s so many people behind you, supporting you, and you just know that even if you do make your mistakes and you do lose, they’re still going to love you and they’re still there, and it’s amazing to play under these lights.”

The Rustlers finished off the season with a 29-8 record and got better as the year wore on, eventually gaining a spot in the final four at the state tourney.

“I’m so proud of these kids and the journey that they’ve been on this year, and they way they came here and represented Miller and our program,” DeBoer said. “It’s been a great experience and hopefully we’ll be back next year.”

Serving: Miller 8 aces (Jolie Palmer 3, Gracen Werdel 2, Aleah Schlechter 1, Shaylee Anderberg 1, Heather Resel 1); Dell Rapids 9 aces (Elin Schoenhard 2, Lauryn Kloth 2, Kylee Fiddelke 2, Karlie Ingalls 2, Sophi Randall 1).

Hitting: Miller 25 (Schlecht 7, Paige Werdel 5, Anderberg 4, G. Werdel 3, Kate Lichty 3); Dell Rapids 37 kills (Madelynn Henry 12, Kloth 10, Randall 7, Schoenhard 5).

Setting: Miller 24 assists (Heather Resel 21); Dell Rapids 33 (Randall 22, Alaina Wolff 5).

Digs: Miller 51 (Jolie Palmer 15, Resel 10, Schlechter 8, Journey Palmer 7, Anderberg 7); Dell Rapids 58 (Wolff 14, Randall 13, Fiddelke 9, Ingalls 9, Henry 8).

Blocks: Miller 4 assists (Schlechter 2, Lichty 2); Dell Rapids 2 solo 10 assists (Randall 2 solo 3 assists, Schoenhard 3 assists, Kloth 2).

Records: Miller 29-8; Dell Rapids 28-7.

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