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RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Dakota Valley began defense of its Class A state title with a convincing three-set quarterfinal win over Parker on Thursday evening at the South Dakota state tournament at the Rushmore Civic Center. Game scores were 25-16, 25-12, 25-18.

The Panthers, seeded second in the Class A field, will take on No. 3 Belle Fourche in the semifinals. The Mustangs survived a five-set marathon with Sioux Valley, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to get the win.

Parker hung with the Panthers through the opening points of the first set, leading 6-5 before Dakota Valley got a side out to tie things up. Elizabeth Lammers served seven straight points to per her team in command 13-6. Meredith Lammers ended the opening game with a kill, one of her match-high 15.

The second set saw the Panthers surge to an early 5-1 lead before forcing a Parker time out with a 10-5 lead. Parker jumped out 3-0 in the final set but Dakota Valley got the lead at 6-5 on libero Alyssa Johnson's ace. Johnson paced an 8-0 edge in ace serves for the Panthers with four, while Hanna Cummings had two, including the match ender.

Johnson led the Dakota Valley defense with 12 digs while Meredith Lammers had 11. Setter Ally Beresford had 38 assists.

Three teams from the Dakota XII Conference advanced to the semifinals, with league members Sioux Falls Christian and Madison joining Belle Fourche in the final four. The sweep was the only one in Class A on Thursday, with both No. 1 Sioux Falls Christian and Madison taking 3-1 wins.

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