RAPID CITY – Making their first appearance in the state tournament as Elkton-Lake Benton, the Lady Elks could not have asked for a better start.
However, after winning the first two sets of the match, Garretson showed why they were the second-seeded team in Class A, rallying to win three straight sets and take the match in five sets.
Elkton-Lake Benton won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-18, before the Blue Dragons won set three, 25-15, set four, 25-20, and set five, 15-5.
In the first set the Lady Elks trailed 17-13 but rallied to take a 19-17 lead and would go on to take a 1-0 lead in the match with the 25-23 win after a Blue Dragon hitting error gave Elkton-Lake Benton the set.
The Lady Elks got off to a roaring start in the second set, winning the first six points before the Blue Dragons knew what hit them.
Elkton-Lake Benton extended their lead to 12-4 after an Aubree Bales kill, and after a Garretson hitting error gave the Lady Elks a ten-point.
Rachael Krog’s kill put an end to a five-point Garretson rally and ELB would go on to win the set, 25-18.
Head coach Melissa Erickson couldn’t have been happier with the start her team had.
“I was very happy with how we started,” Erickson said. “I was afraid nerves would get the best of us like they did in our SoDak 16 game, but our girls were ready to go.”
After trading points and with the Lady Elks leading 9-8, Garretson went on a five-point run and would not trail again in the set, winning 25-15 to cut the Elkton-Lake Benton lead to 2-1.
The fourth set started in a similar fashion to the third set as the teams raced out to a 10-10 tie and after a Madisyn Nielsen kill, was again tied at 13. However, Garretson took advantage of several ELB hitting and serving errors and would open a 23-17 lead and go on to win the set, 25-20, sending the match to a deciding fifth set with momentum fully on the Blue Dragons half of the court.
Garretson never allowed the Lady Elks to challenge during the fifth set. After a 5-0 start forced Erickson to use a timeout, the lead grew to 9-1 as Garretson finished the comeback with a 15-5 fifth set win.
Despite the setback, Erickson remains proud of her team and what they accomplished just to get to the state tournament.
“I wasn’t disappointed we lost,” Erickson said. “The girls battled and didn’t give up later sets. I reminded them that our goal was to win to get to a SoDak 16 game, and we never looked past that. For us to get here is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.”
Krog had 13 kills to lead the Lady Elks. She also added a team-high 20 digs as well as a service ace.
Kailyn Drietz added 12 kills and nine digs.
Tevan Erickson had 16 digs as well as 34 set assists.
Lily Ranschau led Garretson with 18 kills, while Logan Bly added 14 kills and Kaylin Koch had 11.
The Blue Dragons tallied 11 blocks in the match; Bly had four solo blocks and three assists.
Elkton-Lake Benton (21-12) will take on Hamlin in the second consolation semifinal game, scheduled for a 1:45 p.m. MT start in Rapid City.
RAPID CITY – The third-seeded Arlington Cardinals came in as the higher seed in their matchup with Faulkton Area, but the Trojans would prevail in four sets, sending Arlington into the consolation bracket.
Faulkton Area - the 2019 Class B runners-up and 2020 consolation champions - won the first two sets, 25-22 and 28-26, dropped the third set 25-22, then rebounded to win the fourth set 25-17 to advance into Friday’s championship semifinals.
For Arlington, a 30-win season and a return to the state tournament for the first time since 2014 will see their final two games of state take place in the afternoon sessions instead of the evening.
The bulk of the second set went the way of the Trojans but late life from Arlington would tie the score at 20. Arlington had set point at 24-22 but a block, hitting error, and kill gave the Trojans a three-point rally to lead 25-24.
Hadley Carlson’s big swing knotted the score at 25 but the Trojans answered back with a kill of their own to retake a one-point lead and again have set point.
The Cardinals again had new life after a service error tied the match but a hitting error and final kill gave Faulkton Area the 28-26 second set win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Arlington finally got a bit of momentum going in the third set as a pair of Carlson kills opened an early 6-2 lead to force a Trojans timeout.
Faulkton Area would again rally, however, and with the match tied at 22 the sixth-seeded Trojans needed just three points to advance, but a hitting error and a pair of Carlson kills pushed the Cardinals to a 25-22 set three win to stave off defeat.
Trailing 7-3 in the fourth set, Morgan Larsen and Erin Haufschild swatted back-to-back kills to cut the lead to 7-5. Haufschild and Carlson added kills a few points later to trim the deficit to a point at 9-8 and three points later Arlington had gotten it back to even at 10-10.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals would not lead or tie the rest of the fourth set as Faulkton Area won six of the final nine points to close out Arlington 25-17.
Despite being double-teamed a large percentage of the match, Carlson finished with 26 kills. She also added 31 digs and four service aces.
Haufschild had seven kills and seven digs, while Grace Parry added 12 digs to go along with 40 set assists.
Natalie Burns had 16 digs.
The Cardinals had just two total blocks in the match which put their back row in a precarious position of being bombarded over and over by attacks from the Trojans’ front row.
Isabel Aesoph had 23 kills to lead Faulkton Area, while Shayna Heitmann added 19 kills.
Arlington will take on the seventh-seeded Knights of Aberdeen Christian today at 1:45 p.m. MT from Rapid City.