2008 All-Star Games

Strong play at net lifts North past South in five
By John Papendick, jpapendick@aberdeennews
Published on Thursday, July 24, 2008

In a game filled with great plays made by All-Star volleyball teammates, Ellyce Youngren of Brookings and Megan Boomgarden of Hurley dominated at the net. It was a blow-by-blow matchup, with Youngren's North beating Boomgarden's South 3-2 (25-22, 25-20, 25-27, 21-25 and 15-7) Wednesday night at Wachs Arena in the South Dakota All-Star Games. The 22nd annual All-Star games in Aberdeen feature some of the top athletes in the state who graduated from high school last spring. “We had great teamwork all night,” said the hard-hitting Youngren, who had match-highs of 16 kills and six blocks. “We had great passes, great sets and finished it off with great hits. It was a lot of fun to be around so many girls who are so good at volleyball and love the sport. All week, we cheered and supported each other. We really became a close team.”  Youngren, who will take her pounding game across town to South Dakota State this fall, pointed to North coach Nora Groft (Northwestern) as a bonding agent. “Nora is a great coach. It was fun to be around her this week and get her perspectives on the game. She did a good job.”  Youngren is excited about her future in Division I volleyball at SDSU. “It will be a great opportunity to try a different level of play and will be very challenging. I have a lot to learn.” 

It looked like the North might make short work of the South. Toward the end of what could have been the deciding third game, the North kept giving itself opportunities to sweep the match. However, the South kept making plays of its own and would not relent. One of those making a lot of solid plays was Molly Soholt (Sioux Falls Washington), a former Aberdeen resident. Her kill gave the South a 26-25 lead and a North passing error resulted in the South's first win and the continuation of the match.  Thanks to great plays by Alexa Duling (Gregory) at the net, the South controlled the fourth game. “We kind of stopped communicating, and the South took the momentum away from us,” said the North's Kelli Wiedebush, who helped Warner win the State B title last fall. “We started talking again in the last game, and that got our defense back on track.”  Ironically, the fifth game was error-filled in a match with few errors by players who last played competitive volleyball months ago. Nine of the fifth game's total 22 points came on errors.  However, Youngren re-established her dominance at the net and Amy Sykora (Rapid City Stevens) served out the last four points of game five for a North win. Many of Youngren's kills were set up by Skyora, who had 37 assists and 21 digs. Skyora led the Raiders to a State AA title last fall along with All-Star teammate Kayla Huether. 

The Pierre duo of Gina Geffre and Polly Gill and the Belle Fourche duo of Jordan Schneider and Sam Doolittle also had key moments for the winners as did Trisha Birr (Huron). The winners also got some great serves and plays from four area players: Wiedebush, Amanda Lipp (Aberdeen Central), Ashlee Arthurs (Northwestern) and Amanda Mentzer (Miller). “We had a lot of fun this week playing with all these great players,” said Wiedebush. “When you get all these girls together from the different classes, the level of volleyball goes up. This week will be a very good memory for me.”  Boomgarden, who will play volleyball at the University of Sioux Falls this fall, led the South with 12 kills and three blocks. Emily Plamer (Sioux Falls Lincoln) added 29 digs and Stevie Knutson (Sioux Falls Washington) had 31 assists for Beresford coach Rob Wilson's South team. 

The All-Star Games started in 1987, adding volleyball in 1989. The South has a 12-7 series advantage, but the North ended the South's three-year winning streak.  The All-Star games wrap up today with boys' and girls' golf at 9:30 a.m. at Moccasin Creek Country Club and the football game at 6 p.m. at Swisher Field. The All-Star cheer team will be featured before the football game.

North 3, South 2

25-22, 25-20, 25-27, 21-25, 15-7

Kills: South 54 (Megan Boomgarden, Hurley, 12; Alex Duling, Gregory, 11; Alyssa Chambers, SF Roosevelt, 8); North 52 (Ellyce Youngren, Brookings, 16; Trisha Birr, Huron, 10; Polly Gill, Pierre, 8).

Digs: South 95 (Emily Palmer, SF Lincoln, 29; Carrie Vande Kamp, SF Christian, 16; Molly Soholt, SF Washington, 15); North 93 (Gina Geffre, Pierre, 27; Amy Sykora, RC Stevens, 21; Gill 11; Amanda Mentzer, Miller, 10).

Aces: South 10 (Palmer 3; Amber Schmidt, Woonsocket, 2); North 8 (Geffre 4).

Blocks: South 11 (Boomgarden 3, Stevie Knutson, SF Washington, 2; Hannah Wilkinson, Elk Point-Jefferson, 2; Chambers, 2); North 20 (Youngren 6, Birr 6).

Assists: South 49 (Knutson 31, Vande Kamp 13); North 51 (Sykora 37).

Officials: Brian Sieh (Henry), Hali Watson (Sioux Falls), Deb Klapperich (Conde) and Carla Kjelden (Groton).

CAPITAL JOURNAL:  Laura Haatvedt
PIERRE — Polly Gill and Gina Geffre got to end their high school volleyball careers with a win after all. The duo spent last week in Aberdeen to compete in the All-Star volleyball game Wednesday.

The 22nd annual All-star games brought the best of last year’s senior athletes together for contests in several different sports. And for Geffre and Gill, that meant helping the North team to its first victory in five years.

"It was a lot of fun," Gill said. "It gave us a chance to meet a lot of new people."

In order to play on the All-star team, each athlete had to have graduated that spring, as well as have been named to an All-state squad and nominated by a coach.

"It was a little weird at first to play with people we had been playing against all season," Geffre said. "But they’re all really good, so it was nice to have them on our side this time."

"Once we started practicing together, we just clicked," Gill said. "We all got along very well."

Gill also said the experience made her appreciate the athletic abilities of her opponents more.

"We actually became friends with the Stevens girls," Gill said, of the team that defeated them in five games at the state championship last fall. "You don’t realize just how good (Rapid City Stevens setter) Amy Sykora really is until you’re playing on a team with her."

The heated five-game match couldn’t have been much closer (25-22, 25-20, 25-27, 21-25, 15-7), though the North almost swept the South in three, but the South battled back to force Game 3 into extra points before pulling it out.

"It was cool to break their five-year streak," Geffre said. "But they weren’t about to just give it up."

For Geffre and Gill — both of whom are headed for collegiate volleyball programs, Geffre at Black Hills State and Gill at Dakota Wesleyan — the extra practice and playing time was a valuable experience.

"It was good to get a lot of practice in, with some very competitive and really talented players," Gill said.

But both girls agreed that perhaps the best part of the experience was getting to play together on the same team one more time before heading to college — and getting to play for Pierre head volleyball coach Kacy Kienholz, who helped coach the North.

"It was great to get to play with Gina and play for Kacy one last time," Gill said.