Hawks return to Class B So Dak 16

Below, Brynlee Landis works to stop a Cardinal kill

COLMAN – The Colman-Egan Hawks have been to the Class B State Volleyball Tournament in each of the past two seasons, but as the Hawks opened up the Region 3B tournament with a three-set sweep over Dell Rapids St. Mary on Tuesday night, it had a different feel than their previous playoff runs.
“I feel in those first couple of years, we were always the underdog,” C-E volleyball coach Abigail Dockter said. “We came in and we were making upsets and now to be in that higher seed, it’s a lot of pressure because you’re expected to win and you’re expected to do well.”
In each of the past two seasons, the Hawks have been able to have plenty of success when the playoffs rolled around. In 2021, they were the runners-up in Class B. In 2022, they finished in seventh place. Each of those runs came as somewhat of a surprise but created expectations as they look to return for the third straight year.
On October 31, the second-seeded Hawks felt some of that pressure as they hosted the seventh-seeded Cardinals.
The Hawks opened the match with a 25-13 win in the first set but allowed the Cardinals to reach set point before a late rally helped them earn a 29-27 win in the second set. C-E hit its stride in the third set with a 7-2 run that helped them close the match with a 25-9 victory but the Hawks came away knowing that there was some room for improvement.
“I think we used our offense to our advantage,” Dockter said. “We have some really strong hitters who are smart in knowing how to place the ball. We had some good serves and then we were just being scrappy to get by.”
The Hawks’ offense was fueled by the front row which was highlighted by Anna Zwart.
Zwart recorded eight kills with three blocks in the win over the Cardinals and drew praise from Dockter for her ability to find consistency over the past several weeks.
“She’s gotten more aggressive and consistent,” Dockter said. “Before the season started, she was just inconsistent in some of these games and she would have some games where she would kind of be off. But in the last couple of weeks, she’s been super consistent in hitting the ball aggressively and getting her timing figured out. She’s been able to read the court well and…finding the holes and being able to place it there.”
Dockter also mentioned her team’s defensive effort which was led by setter Kaylee Voelker, who had 18 assists against the Cardinals.
“She’s the one that’s been a huge hustler on our team,” Dockter said. “She’s not afraid to get on the ground. If she knows some of her teammates aren’t going to get to that tipped ball, she is willing to dive on the ground or run across the court to go get it.”
Voelker and Zwart are just two of the players who help the Hawks produce. Daniela Lee had nine kills and 17 digs while Brynlee Landis had five kills, four blocks and 14 digs. Lanie Mousel had 16 assists and five kills while Presley Luze had 22 digs.
Together, it made for a quick night for the Hawks, but Dockter also stressed for the entire team to produce consistent outings moving forward. That includes the ability to be aggressive at the net, anticipating what their opponent is going to do on defense and staying organized on a system attempt.
It creates a simple task for the Hawks that will need to be done with the expectations of returning to the state tournament. After the Hawks improved to 26-5 with the win, the next step is to take care of their business in the semifinals on Tuesday night.
“It’s just kind of keeping the girls grounded,” Dockter said. “They know that this is a whole new season and the records from the past season don’t matter anymore. It’s who shows up and who plays their hearts out and there’s going to be one team that comes away with the win. … You have to show up no matter what because if you don’t, you’re going to go home.”
And the Hawks haven’t went home yet as they defeated Sioux FAlls Lutheran on Thursday evening in Salem to advance once again to the Class B SoDak 16.
CE won the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-12. SFL then stormed back and forced a fifth set with a 25-19 win in set three and a 25-20 win in set four. The Hawks were able to hang on in the fifth and final set with a 15-11 win and are now one of the final 16 teams in Class B.
There were no individual stats provided.
Colman-Egan is now 27-5 and will be the No. 4 seed in the SoDak 16. The Hawks were to play No. 13 Alcester-Hudson (23-8) on Tuesday at the West Central High School in Hartford. Results in next week’s Enterprise.