On every championship-level team, there are the starters and there are the finishers. One gets the squad going, the other racks up the points.
That’s true on a Warner squad that earned yet another state title; it’s true on a Northwestern squad that spent the entire season atop the Class B rankings and reached a third straight state title match.
And it’s true on this year’s edition of the Class B All-State volleyball team, as selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association.
Warner and Northwestern, perennial powerhouses in the volleyball realm, both put two players on the first team. Madlyn Groft and Riley Grandpre were the Wildcat selections, while the Monarchs put Laura Ochsner and Ashley Fischbach aboard. They were joined by Hanna Reiff of Chester Area, Peyton Melius of Faulkton Area and Taylee Indahl of Burke – all state tournament participants, and all members of the all-tourney team.
Second-team all-state selections include Shaylee DeBeer of Deubrook Area, Jeryn Christensen of Arlington, Jadon Wages of Chester Area, Cylver Lurz of Philip and Abigail Grabowska of Ipswich.
Honorable mention picks include Faith’s Mikenzy Miller, Ethan’s Jada Plastow and Karly Gustafson, Langford Area’s Ady Dwight, Kimball/White Lake’s Darby Deffenbaugh,and Waverly-South Shore’s Ali Kranz.
Ashley Fischbach, Warner (Sr., OH)
Though surrounded by a number of weapons, Fischbach was Warner’s go-to choice when points were on the line. The senior racked up more than 400 kills and nearly 375 digs on the season. She also was in on 24 blocks at the net.
“Ashley is a very talented athlete who dramatically improved her role this season,” said Warner coach Kari Jung. “She has a tremendous ability to see the opponent’s court and place the ball for a kill. When we needed points, we knew we could go to her to finish plays.”
Riley Grandpre, Northwestern (Sr., MB)
Grandpre was half of Northwestern’s twin power-front, playing a significant role for the Wildcats at the net. A senior headed to Dakota State, Grandpre finished her season with more than 400 kills and 85 blocks and her career with a 137-9 overall record.
“Riley not only wanted the ball in tough situations but loved the challenge of putting the ball down even with everyone keying on her,” said Northwestern coach Nora Groft. “I am very proud of the kind of volleyball player she has become, but I am most proud of the kind of person has grown to be. We will miss her very much next year but know she will take her work ethic and passion with her and continue to develop at DSU.”
Madalyn Groft, Northwestern (Jr., S)
One of just two juniors and the only setter selected to the squad, Madalyn Groft played the part of the heartbeat of the Wildcats throughout the season. The setter ran the offense for Northwestern, but had the ability to go up for a kill when the opportunity arose, plus was fourth on the team in blocks. Nearly 100 of her 1,131 total assists this season came during the state tournament. She also finished the season with 77 service aces, 275 digs and 29 blocks.
“Madalyn spent considerable time watching film and picking apart team defenses and blocking schemes this season so that she could get the ball to the open hitter as well as attack to an open part of the court herself,” said coach Nora Groft. “Her increased volleyball IQ allowed us to run an up-tempo offense and get the ball to one of our many attackers.”
Taylee Indahl, Burke (Jr., OH)
Indahl, the other junior named to the first team, was an integral part of a Burke squad that made a huge post-season run, going from a 10th seed in the SoDak 16 to a fifth place finish at the state tournament – in essence, pulling off three straight upsets for its highest-ever finish at the state tournament. Indahl finished with 554 kills, 32- digs and 67 service aces for the Cougars this season. She also holds the school record for single-season and career kills and was the very first Burke player to be named to the all-state tournament team.
“Taylee was a huge part of our success this season, as she was one of our go-to hitters,” said Cougar coach Billie Jo Indahl. “She is such a versatile player who sees the court so well as she plays all the way around! She does a nice job of reading the defense to know where to hit the ball on the court, making for a very strong offensive attack.”
Peyton Melius, Faulkton Area (So., OH)
Melius is the only sophomore on the first team after helping Faulkton to a record-setting season. Faulkton reached the state tournament for just the second time, first since 2008, and won its first – and only – state tournament match, largely behind Melius’s 6-rotation play. Melius was one of the top attackers in the state tournament, finishing with 60 total kills over 12 sets played.
“Peyton is a very hard worker,” said Faulkton coach Mallory Schlechter. “She is always trying to be the best she can be no matter where she is on the court. This season, Peyton became someone we really began to rely on. She always managed to find a rhythm with her hitting and was someone we always knew could get us a kill in big game situations. She also was a strong back row player for us and even became one of our lead diggers.”
Hanna Reiff, Chester Area (Sr., L)
Reiff was an anchor for the Flyers all season long, racking up more than 800 digs during the regular season and another 112 during the state tournament. A senior headed to Northern State next fall, Reiff handled the back row business with relative ease for a Chester Area team that had high expectations for itself throughout the season.
Reiff and the Flyers finished fourth at the state tournament last month.
Laura Ochsner, Warner (Sr., L)
While Fischbach manned the front line for the Monarchs, Ochsner anchored the back line, providing a solid framework for the Warner offense in which to operate. Ochsner picked up her 1,000th career dig midway through the season, and was second only to Reiff in the state tournament in terms of digs. Ochsner finished the season with 607 digs and 47 service aces.
“Laura quietly leads by example and is the type of player any coach loves to have in the gym,” Jung said. “She shows up every day with a great attitude and an incredible work ethic. Her consistent serve-receive and defense were a big reason why our offense was so successful.”
DeBeer, a senior setter/middle hitter, and Christensen, a senior libero, are both on the Class B All-State second team for a second year in a row.
They were the Dakota Valley Conference Co-MVPs this season.
DeBeer totaled 354 kills – 3.47 per set – while hitting .251. She came up with 367 digs, recorded 63 blocks, netted 44 service aces and tallied 350 set assists in a 6-2 system.
DeBeer averaged 10.8 digs, 10.5 kills and 10.3 set assists per match.
“Shaylee is a very hard working young woman,” said coach Rachelle DeBeer. “She really worked on her game this summer to make herself a much stronger hitter to help our team. She is also a great defender and a great athlete. She has had to play middle hitter and setter for us, which is an unlikely combination; but she does a great job of making that happen.”
DeBeer hit the millennium mark for her career in both set assists and digs, finishing with 1,106 and 1,005, respectively.
Christensen racked up 662 digs – an average of 7.71 per set – and was an incredible 98.9 percent – 437-of-442 – on serves with 51 aces. She was 433-of-452 on service receptions.
“She has been making it difficult for hitters to notch kills against the Cardinals since starting varsity for her team as a freshman,” said coach Anita Boeck. “Now with more than 2,000 career digs, Jeryn has demonstrated both the strong desire and the uncanny ability to keep a volleyball hit near her off of the floor. It addition, Jeryn is a skilled server who, if she does not ace the opponent, keeps them out of system. A vocal leader out on the court, this senior always expects her teammates to step up and perform at their highest levels, and this is fair as she will accept nothing less from herself.”
Christensen finished as the school’s all-time recordholder in digs with 2,129. She served at a 97.7-percent clip – 1,303-of-1,339 – for her career with 158 aces. Additionally, Christensen was 1,405-of-1,517 on service receptions.
Class B All-State VOLLEYBALL
As selected by the South Dakota Volleyball Coaches Association
Madalyn Groft, Northwestern, Jr., S
Hanna Reiff, Chester Area, Sr., L
Peyton Melius, Faulkton Area, So., OH
Laura Ochsner, Warner, Sr., L
Riley Grandpre, Northwestern Area, Sr., MB
Ashley Fischbach, Warner, Sr., OH
Taylee Indahl, Burke, Jr., OH
Shaylee DeBeer, Deubrook Area, Sr., S/MH
Jeryn Christensen, Arlington, Sr., L
Jadon Wages, Chester Area, Sr., OH
Cylver Lurz, Philip, Sr., MH
Abigail Grabowska, Ipswich, Sr., OH
Mikenzy Miller, Faith, Sr., MH; Jada Plastow, Ethan, Jr., OH; Ady Dwight, Langford Area, Jr., MH; Darby Deffenbaugh, Kimball/White Lake, Sr., Libero; Karly Gustafson, Ethan, Sr., MH; Ali Kranz, Waverly-South Shore, Sr., OH/MH