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A memorable week for Huskies coach Erin Kuper

EPJ Coach 1.jpg
Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Six days ago, Elk Point-Jefferson won their first ever state football championship. On Thursday in Sioux Falls at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, the Huskies upset top seeded Wagner 3-1 in the quarterfinal round of the ‘A’ state volleyball tournament.

But for head volleyball coach Erin Kuper, something else happened this week that might top them all.

“I had a baby on Saturday,” explained Kuper. “My mom is at home right now with the baby, so we’re going to hustle back there.”

She gave birth to a boy. As Kuper will tell you, discussions were in place regarding her pregnancy at state volleyball.

“The game plan since the beginning when we found out we were pregnant, and we were due on the thirteenth and it was like “hey, this is how it’s going to be, because we’re making it to state.” I guess it wasn’t really a mind shift, but we had just been planning it and hoping and praying,” coach Kuper said.

Elk Point-Jefferson entered the state tournament as the No. 8 seed. This meant right out of the gate, they’d be paired up with top seeded Wagner.

“We played them last year in the [SoDak 16] and we lost to them in five, so we kind of had that revenge type play coming in, and that definitely showed, especially in the fourth set,” explained Kuper. “We weren’t going to five, we were getting it done.”

The Huskies won sets one and two by a score of 25-21 and 25-23. They then dropped the third set 25-23, but held off a rally from the Red Raiders in set four to win it 27-25.

EPJ Coach 2.jpg
Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Elk Point-Jefferson defeated Wagner 3-1 in quarterfinal round of state tournament

“They really just came out the last couple of games, ever since we started the [post-season] play and just really bought in. This is our play, you know, we do have some strong hitters, but this is kind of how we play the game,” Kuper stated. “They have a really big heart, and that shows, it’s just when you play with heart, that scrappiness really comes out.”

Elk Point-Jefferson has had a tremendous post-season. They swept Beresford at home in the first round of regionals, then swept the C-Hawks in Canton, and took out Rapid City Christian 3-0 in the SoDak 16 to get to state. Up next they’ll have to play Sioux Falls Christian, the five-time defending champs in Class A.

“We’re going to just keep doing what we’re doing,” the Huskies coach exclaimed. “Just saying how proud I am of them. We have really great leadership, and just continue to play with the scrappiness that we have.”

#4 Sioux Falls Christian and #8 Elk Point-Jefferson will play at 5 pm CT in the semifinals. The game will stream live online at sdpb.org/volleyball.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.