Governors to play in final with undefeated record
By Dave Martin
Pierre continued its amazing march to a Class AA state volleyball title with a marathon 3-2 victory over defending champion Roosevelt in semifinal action Friday at the Arena.
This was a back-and-forth battle, with both teams unleashing relentless attacks - and both responding by digging deep to return balls most fans would have thought to be unreturnable.
In the end, the Governors took the five-game match 21-25, 25-15, 25-18, 13-25, 17-15. They will play Rapid City Stevens in the final today.
"There was a lot of emotion in this game," second-year Pierre coach Kacy Kienholz said. "Our girls were out to prove themselves that they could beat an excellent Sioux Falls team."
She said the key to the victory was defense.
"We know defense wins games, and we practice a lot of set receiving and passing - if we can't pass, we can't use our hitters, so we really concentrate on our passing and hitting," she said.
Much of the time those set receptions were dug out inches from the floor and then returned - with force - from kill experts Polly Gill, with 16, and Stephanie Paluch, with 11.
The 5-foot-7 Gill said the Governors have a motto - don't let one ball drop - and they didn't let many get by them.
Gina Geffre and Bethany Goeden led the Governors in digs, with 25 and 23. Gill added 15 and Amanda Stout had 14.
But Roosevelt was equally effective in the dig department.
Steph Kroeze led the Riders with 25 digs, while Heather Goehring had 19, Liz Ilse 17, Jen Gerry 12 and Kortnee Williamson 11.
The Rough Riders had 107 digs and Pierre had 96.
The Riders took Game 1 on the strength of an eight-point run, scoring 10 of the final 12 points, with Alyssa Chambers serving and Goehring scoring the final two points on kills.
Goehring, who had 15 kills, continued her killing strikes in Game 2 but was matched by Gill, who totaled 16 for the match.
The difference in Game 2 was that the Riders were down 8-2 at the start and just couldn't catch up.
Gill again came up with timely kills in Game 3, and the Governors scored the final five points to take a 2-1 lead in games.
The Riders had their best performance of the night as they put together a 10-point run in Game 4 to build an 18-7 lead, with Chambers, who had 13 total kills, doing much of the damage.
The Rider senior middle hitter came up with a pair of ace serves, sandwiched around kills by Goehring and Wagner Larson to get the Game 4 win.
That brought up the final game for a berth in the championship match tonight.
The game was tied four times, but once more, Gill proved to be too much, as she nailed two kills to set up the game point, which the Riders hit into the net.
Riders coach Holly Lynch said it felt like a championship match.
"Pierre is really tough," she said. "They have great passers and hit the ball well. They just didn't let up, and they made very few errors.
"But we put up a great fight and we played with a lot of heart," she said.