By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- When South Dakota School of Mines and Black Hills State face each other in competition, there is an elevated level of emotion displayed with the athletes. Given the history of the two schools and the rivalry that goes along with it, any game, any match or any race is that much more important.
Maybe even more so tonight in Spearfish at the Donald E. Young Center.
Tonight opens the Dakota Athletic Conference volleyball season for both the Yellow Jackets and Hardrockers as the two schools will square off. And with it, perhaps a much more heated rivalry with even more intensity and emotion then previous meetings.
The reason --- both teams are unbeaten and have identical 9-0 records.
South Dakota Mines returned from Rocklin, Calif., this past weekend, where they swept their matches, going 5-0, after doing the same thing a week earlier at a tournament in Billings, Mont., posting a 4-0 mark. The Yellow Jackets were also at the Billings tourney and also collected a 4-0 record and most recently returned from Moorhead Minn., where they defeated Rocky Mountain College for the third consecutive time this season along with non-conference wins over Mayville State and Valley City State.
As the match between the rivals draw closer its interesting to note that none of the current players on the Lady ‘Rockers’ roster has ever defeated BHSU and the last time they did post a victory over the Yellow Jackets was five years ago in the middle of the 2002 campaign.
First year Hardrocker head coach Beth Honaker knows how important this match is, but said she feels every DAC match is important, but did acknowledge the history both programs have with each other.
“I think our girls think that (every match is important). It���s no difference from any other conference match,” Honaker said. “(The SDM players) do know the history between BHSU and us and how many years it’s been since we’ve beaten them. I know they would like to break that streak.”
And Honaker and the Hardrockers have their work cut out for them. BHSU was picked to finish the season second in the conference and are having no problems so far proving that fact.
“They are a solid team both offensively and defensively,” Honaker said. “I think they transition very well. And across the frontline they have many options that could pose a threat. We are going to have to commit to everyone of their front row players.”
Individually for the Yellow Jackets, sophomore Kristi Engle (6-foot-1-inch OH from Newcastle, Wyo.) is having a stellar start to the season. She has racked up 112 kills thus far and is 183-234 on the attack and has recorded 12 solo and 40 assisted blocks.
“She’s hitting like .387 for the season right now and of course she’s one person we will have to really key on,” Honaker said.
Another weapon for Black Hills State is sophomore setter Mandy Brumfield (5-7 from Dickinson, N.D.). She has is a multifunctional player that can cause problems for opposing teams at the net.
“Their setter will pose a problem just because when she is in the front row she still maintains the offense as a hitter,” Honaker said. “She likes to throw the ball around and we will have to play disciplined defense.” The Yellow Jackets also have a gem in libero Jenny Weitzel (5-5 senior from Berthoud, Colo.). She is averaging 4.8 digs a game, having a total of 148.
But the Hardrockers also are looking solid and have some pretty formidable weapons, starting with junior setter Tessa Howe (5-8 from Omaha, Neb.).
“I think we are distributing the ball well and Tessa is making good decisions in the setting role. We are serving very well right now,” Honaker said.
Howe has tallied 324 assists from the setter position this year and is averaging 10.5 a game.
The trio of Jennie Malone (MH senior from Rapid City), Ashley Kauffman (OH junior from Fort Morgan, Colo.) and Katherine Hanson (MH sophomore from Sioux Falls) spearhead the ‘Rockers’ offense. Kauffman has 98 kills to her credit and has made good on 246 of 293 attacks, while Malone is 174-190 on the attack with 88 kills and Hanson is 175-189 for attacks with 72 kills.
The Yellow Jackets will have to find ways to stop that trio as it appears they can come from any direction.
Defensively for the Hardrockers, libero Jenny Hiykel (5-1 junior from Omaha, Neb.) is quite an asset totaling 149 digs and averaging five a game. And with Amanda Cammack (5-11 junior MH from Sturgis) to help block at the net, South Dakota Mines seems evenly matched with Black Hills State.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.