The Dakota Valley volleyball team returned to the State A Tournament after missing last year. The Panthers had been in the finals 2 years running and they wanted no less this year.

They accomplished that goal but fell short of the championship, running into an old foe – Sioux Falls Christian. The teams had split their 2 meetings during the regular season, with Christian taking a 3-set win in September and DV winning in 5 at the conference tourney. Their championship match also went 5 games, but DV lost this time, 22-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22,11-15.

Dakota vs. Madison

25-23, 25-23, 25-16

DV’s road to the finals started against Madison, a team they beat 3-0 in the regular season. They did the same at state.

The Panthers had a shaky start to the game, having trouble with serve receive and making 4 hitting errors. Sophia Atchison got them back on track with a couple of kills and an ace gave DV a 2-point lead at 9-7. Taylor Wilshire added an ace and Atchison another kill to force a Madison timeout. The lead stayed right around 2 points with kills from Rachel Rosenquist and Tori Schulz and a block from both. A Rachel Wente kill sealed the win in game 1.

The teams traded points to start game 2, with DV opening up a 7-5 lead off a Schulz block. The Panthers were good at finding open spots, but hitting errors let Madison creep back in. The score was tied at 10-all and neither team could break away until the Bulldogs took a 21-19 lead. Coach Mary Miller called a timeout and her team responded by tieing the score at 21. An Ally Beresford ace gave DV a 24-22 lead and, again, a Wente kill ended the game.

The 2 close losses seemed to take the wind out of Madison’s sails. Game 3 started with a 5-0 Panther run, fueled by Beresford at the line. DV was up 8-2 when Madison called a timeout to try to stop the momentum. They did pull within 3 at 8-11, but DV continued to build on the lead to take the game and the match.

Rosenquist led the team with 9 kills. Beresford had 28 assists, 14 digs, 3 aces and a block. Jorja VanDenHul also had a block.

See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.