RAPID CITY, S.D. | No. 1 ranked Sioux Falls Christian denied Dakota Valley its second straight Class A volleyball crown after a five-set nail-biting win over the Panthers in state final match at the Rushmore Civic Center Saturday night. Game scores were 25-13, 19-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-13.
In a match with multiple momentum changes, the Chargers won a tight fifth set that they never trailed but led by no more than two points. Ellie Voss had a match-high 22 kills to lead Sioux Falls Christian, including five in the final set.
The win was the third in as many matches this season for the Chargers over Dakota Valley, who also won 3-0 in a best-of-five set match in Dakota XII Conference play and a 2-1 triumph in the final of the league's tournament.
The Chargers came out intent on winning the match quickly, scoring the first five points of the opening set and led by double digits most of the way before clinching on a service error.
The Panthers looked in trouble of going down 2-0 in the match when Sioux Falls Christian vaulted to a 12-8 lead but a key service run by Ally Beresford changed the momentum in the match. Beresford took the service line with her team down 15-14 and had two aces along with a Meredith Lammers kill and Sioux Falls Christian attack error to put her team up 19-15. Beresford added two kills, including one at set point to tie the match at 1-1.
The third set was tied 5-5 early on but a 7-1 run by the Panthers put them up 12-6 and they held at least a four-point lead the rest of the way to move within a set of the title. Sioux Falls Christian however took the flow of the match back in the fourth set, taking a 10-2 lead.
Dakota Valley was able to pull within 12-8 but could come no closer as the Chargers used seven service aces in the set to get the win.
Dakota Valley never led in the fifth set, despite tying the score at points seven through 12. Meredith Lammers had 17 kills and Nikita Reinschmidt 14 to lead Dakota Valley. Beresford had 47 assists.
The Panthers, who are under the guidance of first-year coach Amy Wiseman, finished the season with a 28-4 record with their only other loss to Iowa Class 4A state runner-up Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
It was the first match up of the two teams at state since 2015 when the Chargers won a four-set match in the semifinals.
Dakota Valley and Sioux Falls Christian have accounted for the last eight Class A titles, but curiously have met just once in the final match prior to Saturday.
The Chargers won the 2012 crown with a 3-game win in the only previous finals match between the schools.
Prior to last season when Sioux Falls Christian was knocked off by Madison in the semifinals, the two rivals had meet four straight years, three of them coming in the semifinals. Dakota Valley's only win in that stretch came in the 2013 semifinals on way to its first state title prior to last season's triumph.