Senior leadership guided Diggers’ VB team in 2019

Lead-Deadwood’s Anna Campbell, right, goes for an attacking kill during a volleyball match last fall. Campbell and the Golddiggers forged an 18-12 record. Pioneer file photo

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LEAD — Six seniors guided the Lead-Deadwood varsity volleyball team to an 18-12 record this season.

“The senior leadership that we had on the court this year was so much fun for our program,” Golddiggers’ head coach Kim Hansen said. Those players were ninth-graders in Hansen’s first season here.

She added those players knew a lot about the game, plus what was expected of them and how to adjust during matches.

That senior leadership and returning experience were strong suits coming into the season. Hansen said serving would also be strong, and the team improved its hitting percentage.

“There were times where our serve receive was kind of our Achilles heel,” Hansen said. “If you can’t serve receive, those are quick points for the other team.” 

A three-games-to-zero victory over Moorcroft boosted the Golddiggers’ record to 3-0. Lead-Deadwood toppled Spearfish three games to two and improved to 7-1.

Victories over Hot Springs, Bennett County, Red Cloud, and Custer followed as the team moved to 11-6. 

Lead-Deadwood forged a pair of three-match winning streaks between a three-match skid and boasted a 17-10 mark. A loss to St. Thomas More ended the regular season.

The Golddiggers brought the number 4 seed into the Region 8A tournament. 

Lead-Deadwood defeated fifth-seeded Custer three games to one to begin the tourney. A three-games-to-zero loss to top seed Hill City ended the Golddiggers’ campaign.

“They were able to get themselves out of a lot of sticky situations in games they came back to win,” Hansen said in describing the team’s evolution this season. She added it came back to serve receiving and senior leadership.

Other season highlights included Anna Campbell, who paced the team in hitting with 323 attacking kills. Blake Mehlberg recorded the 1,000th dig of her varsity career.

Rebecca Groeger, Anna Campbell, Hannah Campbell, Natalie Janssen, Raygan Mattson, and Mehlberg represented the senior class.

“They were able to communicate well,” Hansen said of the seniors. “Seeing their progression in communication was a definite highlight.”

Hansen added a lot of volleyball involves finding the open spots on the other side, and being able to communicate that to a teammate who executes that in a split second, is incredibly difficult.

“We’ve got a lot of talent coming up,” Hansen said in looking toward the future. Setter Kailee Betrand is the lone starter returning, but Hansen does not see that as much of an issue.

“Those girls that will be starting next year played against these starters every single day in practice,” Hansen said. “They got so much better because they had to push the varsity and push the starters.”

Hansen said a goal for next season is qualifying for the class A SoDak 16 event, along with doing well in the Black Hills Conference. Lead-Deadwood tied for third place this season.

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