RAPID CITY, S.D. | The expected match up for the Class A South Dakota volleyball crown was officially booked after Dakota Valley registered an overwhelming 25-15, 25-17, 25-15 win over Belle Fourche in the semifinals of the state tournament Friday evening at the Rushmore Civic Center.
The No. 2 ranked Panthers controlled the flow of play for their second straight match at the tournament, winning all six games to move on to a finals match with Dakota XII Conference rival Sioux Falls Christian.
The No. 1 Chargers, winner of two matches over Dakota Valley during the regular season, also moved on with a straight set win over league rival Madison earlier Friday, a rematch of last year's semifinals won by Madison.
It will be the ninth title match appearance for Sioux Falls Christian since 2002 when the state tournament was moved to the fall.
The Panthers had to overcome a deficit in a game for the first time at state, rallying back from an early 7-2 Belle Fource lead in set 3. Dakota Valley put up runs of 8-1 and 13-3 to close out the match.
Dakota Valley led comfortably in the first two sets, running out to a 12-6 lead in the first game before Madisyn Heeren closed things with an ace serve that gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
The second set was tied a 6-6 but Nikita Reinschmidt fueled a 3-0 run with two kills and Dakota Valley led the rest of the set which ended on a Bronco serving error.
Sisters Meredith and Elizabeth Lammers led the Panthers in kills with 13 and 10, respectively. Reinschmidt also had nine kills while setter Ally Beresford had 32 assists and three of DV's five service aces. Meredith Lammers also had 15 digs and libero Alyssa Johnson had 14.
The Panthers, who are under the guidance of first-year coach Amy Wiseman, will be looking to repeat as Class A champions, having ended a two-year title run by Sioux Falls Christian in the process. It will be the first match up of the two teams at state since 2015 when the Chargers won a four-set match in the semifinals.
Either Dakota Valley and Sioux Falls Christian have won the last seven Class A titles, but curiously have met just once in the final match. 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.