RAPID CITY, S.D. —– In front of an electrifying crowd at the King Center, the South Dakota Mines volleyball team defeated the ThunderWolves from Colorado State University Pueblo in the quarterfinals of the RMAC playoffs.
The match went five sets with the Hardrockers coming out on top 3-2 (25-23; 13-25; 32-30; 15-25; 15-12).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Hardrocker and Thunderwolves started the first set going back and forth with the lead until CSU Pueblo went up three, 14-11. The Hardrockers went on a 6-0 run keyed by a kill from Paisley Gibson and an Emma Grimm ace to retake the lead, 17-14, and continued to battle their way to a 25-23 win.
In the second set, CSU Pueblo grabbed the momentum early with a 5-0 run to take a 9-5 lead and they would keep their foot on the gas, taking the set, 25-13.
South Dakota Mines would do a great job of not letting the second set carry over to the third, however, and battled. This set was just that, a battle. Early on, a 3-0 run gave SDM, the 10-7 advantage, but the two teams would teams would trade points back-and-forth after evening it up at 13. Later on, CSU Pueblo took a 19-17 lead, and eventually faced set point, but they would show off their grittiness and continue to fight, scoring 3 of the next four points to tie it at 25. That’s when the fun began. Both teams would have opportunities to close the set, with the Hardrockers facing set point four times, but would battle and claw their way until they got a kill from Alessandra Meoni and back-to-back from Jenna Curtis, the Hardrockers ended the set with a 32-30 advantage.
Early in the fourth, the Hardrockers looked like they were headed for a 4-set win, taking a 5-1 lead, but the way these two teams play each other, that was never in the cards. A pair of ThunderWolves’ errors would give the Hardrockers a 9-3 advantage, but they would answer with six straight, tying it up at 9. Another 6-0 run gave CSU Pueblo a 17-11 advantage, and they wouldn’t allow South Dakota Mines to get back into it, sending it to a fifth, winning 25-15.
In the fifth and deciding set, the Hardrockers looked like they might be in trouble early, falling behind early 6-3. The magical season was not going to end that easy, however, as the Hardrocker got five kills from Meoni and Jenna Curtis to bring the set level at 6. Curtis dominated the fifth set, getting another to help the Hardrockers get to 8 first and the switch. Following the switch, with the Hardrockers leading by 1, 9-8, Kiera Walsh took over with three straight Kills, giving the Hardrockers a 12-11 lead. Then it was a Walsh and Meoni block and another kill from Curtis before Alessandra Meoni closed the door, giving South Dakota Mines the 15-12 fifth set win, and sending them to Denver for the semifinals.