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The 2020 Sturgis Scooper Volleyball Team
Photo by Terry Anderson
The 2020 Sturgis Scooper Volleyball Team

Scooper Volleyball Team Optimistic For Fall Season


Terry Anderson, KBHB Sports - August 25, 2020

STURGIS, S.D. -- The 2020 Sturgis Scooper volleyball team has worked hard over the summer with the hopes of a fall sports season in the midst of a global pandemic. 

On a sweltering summer day in West Gymnasium, new head coach Debbie Cano is watching her offense work, trying to make some last minute adjustments before facing the perennial Butte County powerhouse, the Belle Fourche Broncs.  Cano was head volleyball coach for the Scoopers in 2016 and previously coached and taught in Spearfish.  She played high school volleyball at Bennett County, where she won a state championship in 1994 and took home second place at state her senior year in 1995.  Cano played college volleyball at Black Hills State and has more than 15 years of coaching experience and decided to step back into the head coach’s role because she sees something special in this group of girls.

“I came back to be the head coach because I felt these girls needed someone that was going to push them a little more than in the past and they have done an amazing job,” Cano said.  “They have really come along, this summer they have worked really hard and I’m really excited to see how far they go because they have high expectations and they want me to push them to get there.”

The Lady Scoopers lost five seniors to graduation: Eliza Gruba, Sydney Shaw, Emily Gray-Smith, Sarah Janz and Kylie Shaw.  Cano sees senior Brinley Pickett stepping into a leadership position as a right-side hitter and senior Ella Johnson taking over the Libero position for the Scoopers.  Jillian Beck and Elizabeth Ortiz will start as middle hitters.  Cano’s daughter Joellen will also see a lot of time on the court as a setter.  The opening match versus Belle Fourche on Tuesday, Aug. 25 will show Cano the character of her team.

“I expect it to go more than three sets.  I know it’s going to be a battle, I know these girls are up for the challenge and I think we’re going to be the underdogs this year because we graduated those key seniors, and these girls, they don’t know how hard they’ve worked.  So I kind of see us being the underdog,” she said.

The 2020 roster is made up of 8 seniors and 4 juniors, and Cano has seen them work hard over the summer and in practice.

“They never give up, ever, they’re diving after things that you think are going to hit the floor and it pops up,” Cano said.  “They’ve gotten good at reading hits and it’s been fun watching them, even last year on JV, this crew, they only lost two matches.  And so them coming up and filling in on varsity, I see us continuing that winning streak that they’ve created already at the levels they’ve been at.”

Senior outside hitter Makayla Keffeler has four years of high school experience on the Scooper volleyball team and was blunt when asked about their ultimate goal for this season.

“Our goal has been since we were freshman has been to make it state our Senior Year, so if that happens we’re not sure,” Keffeler said.  “My goals are to be able to help the team out as much as I can.”

Cano echoed that sentiment.

“You ask these girls what their goals are and they’re going to say State,” she said.  “They want a conference banner, they have that goal and they have put in everything to try and get there.  I’m just trying to help them get to their goal.”

The Scoopers will battle with area powerhouses Rapid City Stevens, St. Thomas More and rival Spearfish early in the season and Cano can already see some areas that her team can improve on.  Cano's assistant coaches, Amber Burgdoerfer and Krystal Weber will help develop the younger players.

“We need to work on blocking, we’ve worked on a quicker offense,” Cano remarked.  “That’s something that they weren’t quite doing last year and I was their AAU volleyball coach in the spring for the last three or four years.  So we’ve worked together already, we know each other’s expectations and they just do a great job of working to get to where they want to be.”

It remains to be seen how COVID-19 will affect sports seasons this fall.  But Keffler says she will make the most of her senior season, along with her Scooper teammates.

“It’s been a little rough, we’ve heard some news and it isn’t the best, especially for our senior year with the limitations that they’ll put on games but we’re trying to make the best of it, figure out ways we can get some of our student crowd in and still get parents and grandparents in and making plans together and working as a team, that’s been a good part of it.”

Activities Director Todd Palmer has announced that all fans are welcome at the home opener against Belle Fourche because the school district is currently in Phase 1 of the Back to School Plan.  The varsity volleyball match versus the Broncs starts at 7pm.



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