RAPID CITY – After a tough five-set loss Thursday to Burke, the Wolsey-Wessington Lady Warbirds seemed set for another lengthy battle after dropping the first set to the Gayville-Volin Raiders 29-27, but the Lady Warbirds emerged victorious with a 27-29, 25-12, 25-20, and 25-21 victory in the consolation semifinals Friday at Summit Arena in Rapid City.
The first set opened rough for W-W as Gayville-Volin recorded the first three points of the match, drawing a timeout from Lady Warbird coach Lindy Uttecht. The third point for the Raiders was also the 1,000th career kill already for talented freshman hitter Maia Achen.
The Lady ‘Birds were able to get a couple of Raider errors to get on the board before Samara Clemente recorded the first kill of the match for the Lady Warbirds. A Kailynn Dorris big swing fell for a kill, and another big hit by Dorris sent the Raiders scrambling, leading to a point for W-W and a tie at 5-5.
Achen and Clemente exchanged kills before Payton Kemnitz surprised the Raider defense with a quick set kill to give the Lady Warbirds their first lead at 7-6.
The two teams would battle back and forth the rest of the way, with Achen and Dorris featuroing on the attack for both teams. The teams had tied the score eight times already in the match when Gayville-Volin went on a 4-0 run to take a 17-13 lead, the largest lead either team would have in the set. After a timeout, the Lady Warbirds quickly climbed back into the set, with a pair of emphatic Dorris kills knotting the score at 17 and drawing the first timeout from the Raiders.
Again, the teams swapped back and forth, though the longer short bursts seemed to come from the Raiders, who found themselves up 22-19 before a 4-0 run by the Lady Warbirds put W-W on top 23-22. The two teams then tied five more times before an impressive finish by Achen pushed the Raiders to the 29-27 first-set victory.
The Lady Warbirds came out in the second set strong on the back of Dorris, who nailed three of W-W’s first five points as the Lady Warbirds streaked out to a 5-1 lead. The Lady Warbirds pushed the lead out to 12-5 after a Kemnitz ace, but the Raiders stormed back.
A kill by Aliza Westrum and a pair of strong swings from Achen drew hitting errors by the Lady Warbirds, but Achen was injured chasing down the second Lady Warbird misfire, cutting open her chin on the court as she dove for the ball. The game was stopped for Achen’s injury with the Lady Warbirds’ lead cut to 12-8.
Without their leading hitter in the lineup, the Raiders struggled to counter the Lady Warbirds, and Wolsey-Wessington went on a 6-0 run before Achen would return to the floor. She helped to balance things out to some degree, but the Lady Warbirds had the momentum and finished out the 25-12 second set victory.
The Lady Warbirds came out swinging hard again in the third set, building up a 6-1 lead before Raider coach Allison Jones called timeout. Three Lady Warbird hitting errors and a block by Achen got the Raiders within one out of the timeout, but the Lady Warbirds then went on another run to push the lead out to 9-5.
Dorris off the court for a short burst in rotation allowed the Raiders to knot the score at 11-11. The teams would exchange blows, with Achen getting back-to-back kills to give Gayville-Volin a 14-13 lead, their first lead since the first set.
The lead wouldn’t last, however, as Wolsey-Wessington followed the return of Dorris to the front line with a 7-1 run before the Raiders called their second timeout, trailing 20-15. Achen nailed a kill and then dropped in a pair of service aces to get the Raiders within 20-18, but Dorris responded with a kill and an ace of her own to make it 22-18. The Lady Warbirds controlled the pace the rest of the way, with both Raider points coming on W-W hitting errors as the Lady ‘Birds finished the third set with a 25-20 win to take a two-to-one lead in the match.
The Lady Warbirds grabbed the first two points of the third set, but then Gayville-Volin used a balanced attack to go on a 9-1 run. Clemente ended the run with a kill, and the Lady Warbirds fought back to take an 11-10 lead and draw a Raider timeout.
Dorris nailed an ace out of the timeout, and the Lady Warbirds controlled the pace, building up a 19-13 lead before the Raiders used their last timeout. The teams traded some sloppy passing that the Lady Warbirds came out of still up 22-15, but Achen connected on a big swing and then forced the Lady Warbirds into bad position to make it 23-17.
Dorris used a two-hand push kill to the back corner, but the Raiders had the momentum and followed strong net play from eighth-grader Paisley Dimmer to close within 24-21 and draw a timeout from the Lady Warbirds. Lainey Uttecht nailed a kill after a rally coming out of the timeout to complete a 25-21 set victory for the Lady Warbirds, and a 3-1 match win.
The Lady Warbirds pick up their 30th win, now 30-5 with the victory. Dorris was dominant in the game, with 24 kills. Clemente added 10 kills and was part of six blocks, two of them solo. Tatum Luce and Lainey Uttecht each added nine kills.
Kendal Uttecht and Kemnitz set up the Lady Warbird offense with 27 and 22 set assists, respectively. The Lady Warbirds were led on defense by the three Uttecht sisters, who combined for 69 digs. Kemnitz added 20 digs.
Gayville-Volin falls to 21-13 despite a huge game from Achen with 24 kills, 19 digs, and a pair of service aces. Aliza Westrum had seven kills and Paisley Dimmer added six kills.
Keeley Larson set up the Raider attack with 34 assists and had 21 digs. Jolie Westrum led the Raiders defense with 25 digs.
The Raiders will open the day Saturday in the seventh-place game while Wolsey-Wessington will play for the consolation championship of Class B in the second game of the afternoon session.