Volleyball is under way for the Hill City Rangers.
After winning an early season tournament at Custer, going 4-0 over a two day period, head coach Lindsy Wathen said the team’s season goal is to “go into the post season as far as possible.”
“Last year, we fell short of SoDak 16 by losing in the second round of regions to a team that ended up going to state,” she said. “We’ll be in the best position for SoDak by maintaining one of the top seeds in our region through regular season play. We were second in the Black Hills Conference last year, so another goal is to bring home that winning banner. We had a record of 30-7 last season and although we’ve added some more competitive matches to our schedule, we want to end with a strong winning record again.”
The offseason was marked by hard work, Wathen said. Team members were up at 6:30 a.m. for a workout, weights and open gyms over the summer.
The team participated in a summer league and attended and traveled to individual and team camps.
“They are prepared and ready to give it all they have and represenent our community to the best of their abilities,” Wathen said. “I’m proud of their dedication to preparation and hope and pray for a fun, healthy injury-free season for all of them.”
Over the weekend, the Rangers beat St. Thomas More, Lead, Pine Ridge and Rapid City Christian.
They are currently atop Region 8.
A large part of the team’s early-season success can be attributed to returning talent.
“We have the majority of our varsity roster returning at 11, including four star hitters: Emily Siemonsma, Holly Peckosh, Dale Schrier and Hailey Wathen.”
Wathen also said they anticipate having players who will contribute more, including sophomore setter Abby Siemonsma, Sophomore hitter Marie Peckosh, and junior libero Shalie Weaver. Filling in other front row positions are Allie Clemetson and Whitney Edwards. Rounding out the back row are Kadyn Comer and Macey Wathen.
“We have a roster of athletic and versatile players, which is advantageous because we’ve already been battling injury and illness,” Wathen said.
The girls developed a motto over the summer at team camps: WE over ME.
That is combined with the team acronym of TOGETHER.
“Each letter represents a characteristic that they felt our team must possess in order to be the most successful,” she said. “Trust, Optimism, Grit, Effort, Teamwork, Heart, Encouragement, Respect. As coaches, we wanted to guide the girls to truly understand that volleyball is team sport and each team member must wholeheartedly commit to the motto and values to meet our goals. Nobody can win on her own and everybody plays an important role.”