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Huron opens with Rapid City Stevens in chase for Class AA title

Posted: Friday, Nov 22nd, 2013

Huron High School girls’ volleyball coach Shelly Buddenhagen shakes hands with Tiger Activities Director Terry Rotert after the Tigers regional volleyball victory which earned a fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament this week in Mitchell. PHOTO BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN

HURON — After finishing eighth in the last two state tournaments, the Huron Tiger volleyball team will be looking to avoid that outcome during the 2013 Class AA State Tournament, which begins today at the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The Tigers, who are making their fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament, are 18-4 and enter this year’s event as the No. 3 seed.

“Ever since the beginning of this summer, it has been a source of motivation and something that’s never been far from the back of their minds,” Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said of the team’s attempt to end the string of eighth-place finishes at two. “There is no doubt in my mind they are set out to do just that, and maybe even a little more. We’re excited to play at the Corn Palace.”

Although the Tigers hold one of the top seeds heading into the state tourney, Buddenhagen says her team will approach each match as it would any other match throughout the season.

“The No. 3 seed isn’t anything real significant to us other than a number to determine our opponent. With each match we play, we don’t want it to be bigger than any other match we’ve played so far this season,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, we weren’t picked as a team that had a great chance to get to the tournament, so in essence, we’ve far exceeded expectations. If we play aggressively in all aspects of our game and without fear of making mistakes, we have an opportunity of doing well in the tournament.”

As the No. 3 seed, Huron will open the tournament with a 6 p.m. match against sixth-seeded Rapid City Stevens, which is 20-11.

“We are excited about this matchup,” Buddenhagen said of facing Stevens. “We played them earlier in the season, so we are familiar with some of the things of which they are capable of, as well as some of their strengths and weaknesses.”

The Tigers recorded a sweep against Stevens on Oct. 18 in Rapid City. The victory was part of a 13-match winning streak put together by Huron.

“Offensively, their outside hitters are very strong and talented, so we are going to look to put up a strong block on them to slow them down and give our back row a chance,” Buddenhagen said of the Raiders. “They also like to run a quick in-system which means we’ll have to be alert at the net and in the back row.

“Defensively, they are fast, scrappy and tall at the net, so we’ll look to have some long rallies,” she said. “They are always a strong state tournament team and will be very prepared and motivated to beat us.”

The other half of Huron’s bracket will feature second-seeded Sioux Falls Roosevelt (25-8) and Watertown (13-10). They will meet at 7:45 p.m. in the opening round.

“Sioux Falls Roosevelt is heavily favored in our bracket due to their height, talent level and experience. At least three of their players are being recruited by big-time schools,” Buddenhagen said. “However, we’ve seen upsets before in the state tournaments, so I would never count out any other team. At this point of the season, it comes down to the team which is playing well as a team.

“Watertown is another dangerous squad with athleticism and quickness as their key components,” she said.

In the other first round matchups, top-seeded Sioux Falls O’Gorman (20-1) will face No. 8 Rapid City Central (12-15) at noon and fourth-seeded Sioux Falls Washington (18-6) will play No. 5 Aberdeen Central (18-4) at 1:45 p.m.

Although they carry some high expectations into the tournament, Buddenhagen is looking for the Tigers to go out and have some much-deserved fun.

“I think we’re nice and relaxed, but ready to compete and perform to the best of our ability. This tournament is, in a way, a celebration of the team’s accomplishments,” Buddenhagen said. “By winning the Eastern South Dakota Conference and qualifying for the state tournament, we surprised many. The only ones who weren’t surprised were probably the players themselves. It’s been an incredible journey.

“This is our journey, no matter what the outcome may be. When a team is in the midst of the season grind, there isn’t much time to sit back and think about accomplishments,” she said. “We are going to make sure this team has a chance to appreciate their journey together. “

A victory today will move the Tigers into the semifinals, where they will face either Roosevelt or Watertown at 7:45 p.m. on Friday. A loss sets up a consolation round game at 1:45 p.m. Friday against either of those teams.

The tournament’s final round will be held Saturday, with the seventh-place match starting at noon and being followed by the consolation title match at 1:45 p.m. The third-place match is slated for 6 p.m., followed by the championship match at 8 p.m.

For the complete article see the 11-21-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-21-2013 paper.

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