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South Dakota School of Mines women’s volleyball team breezed through the first round of the Dakota Athletic Conference postseason tournament Wednesday, defeating Mayville State, 3-0. SDM now advances to the DAC Final Four--- the first time since 2002
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s volleyball team breezed through the first round of the Dakota Athletic Conference postseason tournament Wednesday, defeating Mayville State, 3-0. SDM now advances to the DAC Final Four--- the first time since 2002. The Lady ‘Rockers will face Black Hills State Friday at Dickinson, N.D., in the semifinal match.
“We’ve been breaking records left and right this year and this (post season win) is just another one to throw into the pot,” said Hardrocker first-year coach Beth Honaker. “The only thing is that our offensive game is still not were it was at the beginning of the season.”
The Hardrockers defeated the Comets, 30-18, 30-25, 30-21.
The Comets, who were low on personnel with the loss of a couple of their starting players, couldn’t keep pace with the up tempo play of the Hardrockers. Mayville also committed a number of serving and net errors that kept them out of rhythm for the most of the match.
“Mayville is always a tough team to play --- especially against their defense,” Honaker said. “They are girls that refuse to give up on balls. Maxine (Mehus, MSU head coach), I give a lot of respect to. She has had numerous injuries (to her team) this year and still made it into the playoffs. That basically comes back to coaching.”
Wednesday also marked the final match for Mehus as she is retiring from the game.
The ‘Rockers were firing on almost all cylinders, showing an improved serve game, to go along with aggressive play in the front row, both terminating balls as well as defending the net.
“We are playing defense very well. Our defense is winning our matches right now,” Honaker said. “I think our big thing is to figure out how our offense can win matches and the defense can help support that.”
The Hardrockers had 19 blocks on the night. SDM junior Renae Keppen had a good effort, recording two solo blocks and two assisted blocks, while teammates Jennie Malone (senior) and freshman Paige Corcoran both added four assisted blocks.
The one bright spot for the Comets was their ability to block balls. Mayville ended the match with 15 total blocks. Comet standout Alyssa Clancy led the way with two solo blocks and five assisted.
Offensively for the Comets, Ashley Nelson led the charge, recording nine kills and was 34-40 on the attack. She also led the team in digs with 17. Brianne Gebeke had 25 assists for Mayville State.
The SDM offensive weapon continues to be Malone, who was 25-26 on the attack and tallied 16 kills. She had a hitting percentage of .577. Malone also earned the final DAC Player of the Week honor this week.
“She is our offensive threat right now,” Honaker said of her senior middle hitter. “She is the only hitter on our team that consistently shows up.”
Ashley Hoffman also had a good match for the Hardrockers, going 30-40 on the attack and collected 10 kills.
The Hardrockers will get one final crack at Black Hills State Friday in a 5 p.m. match. SD Mines has not beaten the Yellow Jackets in the last 12 matches. They came awful close earlier this season, losing in five games, and then had a let down a second time getting swept in three. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 2 seed in the DAC tournament and boast an 11-3 record.
“Third times a charm. That’s what I told the girls,” Honaker said of playing BHSU. “I think I want this win more for Jennie Malone more than anything. In the four year’s Jennie has been here, she has come so close to beating BHSU a few time but has always come up short.”
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