WATERTOWN, S.D. — Just like the first two postseason matches, Dakota Valley came out strong to open the Class A state tournament against Rapid City Christian on Thursday.
But unlike those other matches, the first set fell apart for the Panthers as they blew a double-digit lead.
The Panthers were able to pick themselves up, though, and while the next two sets didn’t match the dominating first half of the first set, it was just enough to help the Panthers climb out of the 1-0 hole and claim the next two sets.
The fourth set was a return to the form Dakota Valley showed against wins over Lennox and St. Thomas More to get to state as the Panthers dominated the fourth set for a 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-9 victory in the first round of the Class A state tournament.
Dakota Valley plays the winner of Hill City and Parker at 7 p.m. in the semifinals on Friday in Watertown.
Rachel Rosenquist led the Panthers with 15 kills, Sophia Atchison had 11 and Jorja Van Den Hul added 10. Atchison added four aces and Van Den Hul had three Logan Miller had 44 assists.
Dakota Valley got off to a great start with a 15-4 lead in the first set but the script was quickly flipped. After initially struggling, the Comets attack started to find its footing while Dakota Valley’s attack encountered some issues, allowing Rapid City Christian to come back.
The Comets went on a 16-3 run to go up 20-18 and didn’t trail again as they won 25-21.
The start of the second set went back-and-forth to start. With the Comets up 11-10, the Panthers went on a 3-0 run to take the lead, which they didn’t give up.
Dakota Valley was up 17-16 when Rosenquist put down a kill to start the run that ended the set. The Panthers went on an 8-1 run to even the match with a 25-17 victory.
The third set was again back-and-forth to start and then a 3-0 run that included two blocks put the Comets up 14-10. The Panthers recovered and countered with a 5-1 run to tie the set at 16.
The Comets went on a 3-1 run to regain the lead but the Panthers benefitted from an attack error, got a kill from Jorja Van Den Hul and then a block to take a 20-19 lead.
The Panthers finished the third set on a 3-1 run and got a kill from Rosenquist for the 25-23 victory to take a 2-1 lead.
Like the first set, Dakota Valley built a big lead, jumping out to a 9-4 advantage and then going up 16-7. This time the Panthers didn’t let it go to waste as they went on to win 25-9 to win the match.
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