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Faulkton finishes strong in seventh-place win at State B

Faulkton’s Kelli Stoecker (12) celebrates winning match point with her teammates during Saturday’s Class B seventh place match against Gayville-Volin at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. Photo by John Davis taken 11/16/2023

RAPID CITY – Faulkton seized the momentum early and rode it victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Trojans finished their season on a high note with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-15 sweep over Gayville-Volin in the seventh-place match at the Class B State Volleyball Tournament at The Monument.

Faulkton coach Mallory Schlechter said it was good to see her team come away with a win.

“We’re just happy, (because) it’s really tough for girls to sometimes come back after losing two (matches),” Schlechter said. “We’re just happy that they came out and they played hard, and they had fun still, and came away with the win this time.”

The opening set was a close affair as the Raiders jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but Faulkton came back and eventually tied the score at 9-9. From there, both squads traded leads until the Trojans put the final touches on the set, giving themselves a one-set advantage.

Faulkton senior Kelli Stoecker said the key was to seize the momentum early in the match.

“I thought we played pretty well. We started out kind of down, but our momentum grew throughout the match and that really played a big role for us. It does for every single game that we have,” Stoecker said. “We got to have energy and we got to have that momentum, and we’ll be perfectly fine.”

Set two began in a similar fashion as both teams fought to a 6-6 tie. However, the match changed after that as Faulkton took the momentum for good and never looked back, outscoring the Raiders 19-9 en route to a set-two win.

Faulkton Senior Tegan Baloun said the Trojans needed to keep playing hard throughout the match.

“We just kept being very scrappy like we normally do,” Baloun said, “and have a strong defense and that helped us to come out on top each set.”

Faulkton’s Tegan Baloun, center, sets the ball as teammates Anna Aesoph (13) Jaymi Senn (11) look on while Gayville-Volin’s Maia Achen (7) watches from across the net during Saturday’s Class B seventh place match at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. Photo by John Davis taken 11/16/2023

Schlechter said once her team settled in, the Trojans were able take control of each set.

“I think once they get comfortable in what they’re doing, they can really just take control of a set,” Schlechter said. “It just takes them a little bit sometimes to really get going, and then once they do, it’s kind of hard to stop them after that.”

The Trojans were nearly unstoppable entering the third set as they bolted out to 10-1 advantage, coasting the rest of the way to a seventh-place finish. Schlechter said the team played to the best of its ability in the final set.

“They just went out and they were excited, and they played really hard,” Schlechter said, “and it showed, and it reflected in the score.”

Stoecker finished with eight kills and led the team with two solo blocks and four assisted blocks.

She noted how much it meant to represent the community of Faulkton at the state tournament.

“It means a lot” Stoecker said. “We’ve had a lot of history in our town, and it means a lot to represent Faulkton and represent this black and gold jersey that I have on today. We have such a great fan base and it’s just awesome to represent them.”

Baloun topped the team with 16 assists, while also adding 10 digs. She said the team has been a close group all season.

“Our team is very, very close,” Baloun said. “A very great group and love them beyond words.”

Faulkton’s Addison Melius, right, hits the ball past Gayville-Volin’s Kayden Bye, far left and Keeley Larson, center, during Saturday’s Class B seventh place match at the South Dakota State Volleyball Tournament at the Summit Arena in Rapid City. In the background for the Trojans is Anna Aesoph. Photo by John Davis taken 11/16/2023

Schlechter echoed those words by complementing how much the seniors and the team have meant to her.

“Our seniors are great. They were great leaders,” Schlechter said. “They’re just really the calm to our storm sometimes, and they’re just such a great group of girls. They love and want everybody to just become the best they can be, and that was their mission all the time. They’re different than other seniors I’ve had in the past, but they were just a tight-knit group, and they brought it all every day and they made everybody around them better every day.”

Serving: Gayville-Volin 2 aces (Ayla Dimmer 1, Keely Larson 1); Faulkton 4 aces (Addison Melius 2, Carley Cotton 1, Anna Aesoph 1).

Hitting: Gayville-Volin 22 kills (Maia Achen 7, Paisley Dimmer 6); Faulkton 42 kills (Cotton 13, Melius 13, Kelli Stoecker 8).

Setting: Gayville-Volin 22 assists (Larson 18); Faulkton 37 assists (Tegan Baloun 16, Micah Martinmaas 14).

Digs: Gayville-Volin 68 digs (Taylor Hoxeng 18, Jolie Westrum 15, Ayla Dimmer 13, Larson 9, Achen 8); Faulkton 62 digs (Cotton 17, Aesoph 15, Melius 13, Baloun 10).

Blocks: Gayville-Volin 8 assists (Aliza Westrum 2 assists, Achen 2 assists, Larson 2 assists, Kayden Bye 2 assists); Faulkton 3 solo 8 assists (Stoecker 2 solo 4 assists, Jaymi Senn 1 solo, Aedyn Raethz 3 assists, Melius 1 assist).

Records: Gayville-Volin 21-14; Faulkton 25-11.

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