Lady Bulldogs roll into State A Tournament

MADISON'S AUDREY NELSON (10) goes up for a block against Aberdeen Roncalli's Jeci Ewart during a SoDak 16 match at the Madison High School Gym on Tuesday. Sophia Vanden Bosch also goes up for the block.

The Madison Lady Bulldogs rolled past the Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers 3-0 (25-16, 25-16 and 25-15) in a SoDak 16 match on Tuesday night at the Madison High School Gym.

With the win, the Lady Bulldogs qualified for the State A Volleyball Tournament next week in Watertown. This is the fourth time in the last five years that the Lady Bulldogs have qualified for the state tournament.

Madison got off to a quick start as Abby Brooks hammered down two kills to begin the first set. Madison stretched its lead to 4-0. The Cavaliers battled back and pulled to within one, 10-9.

"It is always important to get a good start and set the tone right away," said Madison Coach Jill Kratovil. "Starting out on top helps settle the nerves and helps us get into a groove."

Madison went on a 5-1 scoring surge and opened up a 15-10 lead, which grew to 18-11 after Sophia Vanden Bosch smashed a kill that forced Aberdeen Roncalli to call a time-out to regroup.

The Lady Bulldogs closed the first set with a 7-5 run to gain a 25-16 win.

With the score deadlocked at 9-9 in the second set, the Lady Bulldogs went on a 4-0 scoring spurt to gain a 13-9 lead. Aberdeen Roncalli pulled to within one, 14-13.

Brooks hammered down a kill to jump-start the Lady Bulldogs for the remainder of the set. The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Cavaliers 11-3 to close the set and gain a 2-0 lead in the match.

Aberdeen Roncalli opened the third set with a 1-0 lead before the Lady Bulldogs scored five straight points to grab a 5-1 advantage.

Madison opened up a 16-9 lead and the Cavaliers were forced to call a time-out. But the Lady Bulldogs scored three straight points and held a comfortable 19-9 lead. Both teams scored six points to close the set with the game-winning point provided by a Vanden Bosch smash.

"I thought the girls did a great job staying aggressive and not giving up on plays," Kratovil said. "Each match we keep improving, and that is what I want to see at this point in the season. We just need to keep working until the end for our last three matches."

Brooks led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 kills. Vanden Bosch recorded a double-double of 11 kills and 16 digs.

Skyler Sargent accounted for two ace serves for the winners. Kylie Krusemark had a match-high 36 set assists and one ace serve.

Audrey Nelson had a pair of solo blocks and one block assist while Brooks had two solo blocks. Raena Rost recorded nine digs.

"It is nice to see a team effort from the girls," Kratovil said. "It just makes us harder to defend when all are involved."

Elissa Hammrich had eight kills, three block assists and 10 digs for Aberdeen Roncalli. Madelyn Bragg recorded six kills and three block assists.

Maesa May and Olivia Hanson each had one ace serve. Hanson registered 21 set assists for the Cavaliers. Ella Hanson had 13 digs and four block assists.

Madison (17-6 overall) does not know who the opening-round opponent is at this time. Parker and Baltic will play on Wednesday night for the final spot in the state tournament.

Others teams that qualified for the state tournament on Tuesday included Sioux Falls Christian, Hill City, Rapid City Christian, Winner, Hamlin and Dakota Valley.

"I am just so proud and excited for this group of girls," Kratovil said. "With this crazy season, they just kept showing up each and every day to practice and in matches and have not let up. These girls have more to prove and they aren't done yet."