RAPID CITY – Last season the Colman-Egan Hawks finished fourth in their first appearance in a state tournament. This year, with a chip on their shoulder after being overlooked in the offseason and after rallying for a five-set win on Thursday night to advance into the championship semifinals, the Hawks knocked off top seed Platte-Geddes on Friday night to set up a matchup with perennial volleyball powerhouse Warner.
The Monarchs would ultimately prove their dominance in a three-set sweep of Colman-Egan but for the Hawks there was no reason to hang their heads, having made the Colman-Egan school district proud of their accomplishments.
“Obviously Thursday night was a huge game and a big motivator for our girls,” head coach Abigail Dockter said. “It was one of the big check marks for our team.”
Entering the Friday night matchup with the Black Panthers, the Hawks had a bit of revenge on their minds for the second straight night.
Platte-Geddes knocked off Colman-Egan during the Sanford Pentagon tournament earlier in the season, rallying from losing the first set to win sets two and three.
“I told the girls they had the same setup against Platte-Geddes after we lost to them in the Sanford tournament and I told them to go get your revenge against them, too,” Dockter said.
After the five-set thriller Thursday night the Hawks had momentum on their side going into the matchup with Platte-Geddes.
The Black Panthers won the first set, 29-27, but Colman-Egan would respond with three straight set wins, 25-23, 25-22, and 25-19, to clinch their state championship game berth.
For Dockter, Friday night was the next progression for her team.
“Last year was our first year making it to the state tournament and our girls wanted badly to take it one step further,” Dockter said.
Mackenzie Hemmer and Hailey Larson each had 13 kills in the semifinal win, with Daniela Lee adding 11 kills as well as a team-leading 22 digs.
Ava Mousel had 18 digs and 21 set assists in the win.
The Hawks had seven blocks in the match with Hemmer posting three total (one solo and four “half” assists) and Larson adding a solo and assisted rejection.
The win Friday night meant a matchup with the Warner Monarchs, who, along with Northwestern are always in Class B volleyball discussions.
Dockter said that, unlike her team making their first championship game appearance, Warner knew what to expect from a championship atmosphere.
“Clearly they’re a team that has been in that situation before,” Dockter said. “They’ve been in a state championship game before and had the spotlight on them.”
Having rallied to win on Thursday, then the thrill of Friday night’s win to get to the finals, the Hawks didn’t know how they would line up against the Monarchs.
“Thursday and Friday, the games were so close and mentally exhausting,” Dockter commented. “On Saturday, having not seen Warner during the regular season, we didn’t know how we’d match up with them.”
The Monarchs claimed set one, 25-18, and set two, 25-20, before closing out the championship match with a dominating 25-8 win in set three.
Larson led the Hawks with nine kills while Hemmer added six.
While the two leaders for Colman-Egan get all the press, Dockter said the contributions from others not only were instrumental to their success but an inspiration for the rest of the team.
“Some girls who didn’t always have big games every night like Kadance (Landis) and Faith (Taggart) had big contributions for us,” Dockter said. “Faith was huge for us in the state tournament with some huge blocks and some awesome kills when we needed her. The whole team gets pumped up for things like that ‘cause seeing their teammates have awesome games like they did, they really get stoked for them.”
Despite the loss, Dockter is, as expected, proud of her Hawks.
“We didn’t have it in us like we did the first two nights, but we’re still the second place team in state out of 70 teams in our class, so it’s nothing to hang our heads about,” Dockter said.
The state runner-up Hawks finished the 2021 season with a record of 27-8.
Hemmer and Larson were named to Class B All-Tourney Team.
Thursday’s Quarterfinal win over Chester Area
RAPID CITY – Approximately 350 miles from home, two rivals separated by a fifteen-minute drive met in the quarterfinals of the Class B state volleyball tournament.
Fourth-seeded Chester Area raced out to a 2-0 lead and looked poised to advance to the semifinals, but the fifth-seeded Hawks of Colman-Egan had other ideas, rallying to win 3-2 and advance.
The Flyers won set one, 25-23, and set two, 25-20, before the Hawks’ three straight set wins, 25-22, 26-24, and 15-12.
Hawks head coach Abigail Dockter said her team got out of alignment in the first two sets.
“We got stuck in too many rotations and had to play the catch-up game, or were up and let them catch up,” Dockter said. “But our girls are fighters. They’ve been through this before being down two sets. In the playoffs they’ve proven they don’t give up no matter what the score is.”
Set three is when the Hawks starting to get rolling, with a little early help from the Flyers.
Tied at four, Chester Area committed five straight hitting errors to give the Hawks a 9-4 lead, prompting a Flyers timeout.
After giving back a point of their own on a hitting error, Hailey Larson dropped in a kill to re-open a five-point lead for Colman-Egan at 10-5.
The Hawks would extend the lead to six a few points later at 19-14, but the Flyers would score five straight to knot the set at 19, then take a 22-20 lead.
Needing to quickly rally, the Hawks did just that as a net violation and a pair of hitting errors gave the lead right back to Colman-Egan, 23-22, and after a Daniela Lee ace and Mackenzie Hemmer block the Hawks were within a set, trailing 2-1.
The Hawks got off to another strong start in the fourth set, leading 8-4 after another Hemmer kill, but a see-saw set was tied at 20, 21, 23, then 24, before Hemmer scored with one of her 20 kills and the Hawks came up with an ace to win the fourth set, 26-24, forcing the winner-take-all fifth set.
As expected with the way the first four sets went, the fifth set was tight as the teams traded points and were tied near the midpoint, 6-6, before the Flyers scored four of the next five points to open a 10-7 lead.
Colman-Egan had one last rally of its own, however, as the Hawks ran off six straight points and led 13-10 and would go on to win the set, 15-12 and the match.
“Once we got the score tied at ten I told our girls it’s a whole new game, the first one to five points, so you don’t have any time to mess around,” Dockter said.
Hemmer led Colman-Egan with 20 kills, 18 digs, and six blocks (one solo, five assists), while Larson added 13 kills, 18 digs, and four block assists.
Dockter’s senior leaders in Hemmer and Larson were big contributors against Chester Area, fueled by motivation they’ve had since the last offseason when they often were overlooked with so much other talent in front of them on the Hawks’ roster, before those players graduated this past spring. They’re using that to their advantage this year.
“Graduating that many people last year, a lot of people overlooked Mackenzie and Hailey and it hurt them because they were a big part of our team last year,” Dockter said, “so they had this chip on their shoulder and a little pent-up revenge on their side.”
Lee had nine kills and a team-leading 25 digs as well as a pair of aces.
Colman-Egan registered 12 total blocks in the game.
Lanie Mousel had 19 set assists, while Ava Mousel added 14.
Jayda Kenyon and Breckyn Ewoldt each had 18 kills for Chester Area.