Belle Fourche shines in season opener

Pictured is Sara Janz of Sturgis Brown High School attacking against Hayley Wilbur and Amity Middleton of Belle Fourche. Purchase reprints and more at Click on Buy Photos on the menu bar. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross

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BELLE FOURCHE — Belle Fourche earned a three-games-to-zero victory over Sturgis in Tuesday’s varsity volleyball season opener at Edwin Petranek Armory in Belle Fourche. 

Scores were 25-16, 25-21, and 25-21.

“They went out and they just played. They had fun and did some really nice things,” Belle Fourche head coach Loree Schlichtemeier said of her team members. 

Harley Fischer served an ace to give the home standing Broncs a 5-2 edge in the first game.

Sturgis cut the margin to 9-6 when Makayla Keffeler served an ace. 

Attacking kills by Aspen Braning and Hayley Wilbur pushed Belle Fourche’s advantage to 11-6.

The Broncs led by as many as eight points, at 20-12. Kayley Whatley’s attacking kill and Kylee Wolter’s serving ace highlighted a three-point run that allowed Sturgis to cut the margin to 20-15. The Broncs, however, went on to the 25-16 triumph.

Sarah Janz served an ace in the second game as the visiting Scoopers moved ahead 3-1. The margin reached 8-1 before Belle Fourche gained side out.

Kylie Shaw served an ace to keep Sturgis up 14-8. Janz’s attacking kill preserved a 15-10 advantage for the Scoopers.

Belle Fourche gained side out to forge an 18-18 tie. After the Broncs tallied two points, Braning turned in an attacking kill to extend the margin to 21-18.

Whatley recorded an attacking kill as Sturgis gained side out and stayed within 23-19. 

The Scoopers got no closer than three points as Belle Fourche went on to the 25-21 victory.

“We just kept playing,” Schlichtemeier said in describing Belle Fourche’s rally from that 14-8 deficit. “We kind of played one ball at a time and didn’t think about the whole game as one big thing.”

Sturgis gained side out and an 11-10 edge in the third game. Savannah Jones and Emily Gray-Smith followed with attacking kills as the Scoopers led 13-10. Belle Fourche gained side out and trailed by only 13-11. 

A Wilbur block pulled the Broncs into a 13-13 tie, and Belle Fourche went ahead 16-13 before the Scoopers gained side out.

Whatley turned in an attacking kill to keep Sturgis within four points, at 21-17. Alexis Cherveny contributed an attacking kill to end the match for Belle Fourche and preserve the 25-21 win along with the match sweep.

Schlichtemeier agreed there was quite a bit of carryover from the second game to the third game.

“It’s a brand-new season, and I think they got off to a great start,” Schlichtemeier said. “The girls showed that they can play with a lot of heart.”

Sturgis head coach Traci Fransen said the team looked really good at times serving and offensive attacks.

“We were on the offensive when we were playing our best,” Fransen said.  

Fransen praised Whatley for her efforts on offense. 

“She is kind of our little sparkplug when she gets up there and pounds one down,” Fransen said. 

Whatley finished with a team-high seven attacking kills for the Scoopers.

“We have to be more focused on our serving and communicating on the court to prevent any of those balls from dropping and making sure we’re getting in our correct positions,” Fransen  said. 

Statistical leaders follow.

ServingBelle Fourche: Amity Middleton 14-14 with 2 aces, Harley Fischer 13-14 with 3 aces, McKenzie Lyons 13-15 with 3 aces. Sturgis: Kylie Shaw 3 aces, Kylee Wolter 2 aces.

DigsBelle Fourche: Fischer 16, Middleton 7, Elena Wolf 6.

Attacking killsBelle Fourche: Hayley Wilbur 8, Alexis Cherveny 6, Aspen Braning 6. Sturgis: Kayley Whatley 7, Emily Gray-Smith 6.

Ace blocksBelle Fourche: Braning 1, Wilbur 1. Sturgis: Gray-Smith 2.

DigsBelle Fourche: Lyons 20.

Belle Fourche (1-0) will visit Custer on Sept. 5. Sturgis, 0-1, is set to host Hot Springs on Thursday.

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