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Wolsey-Wessington tops Northwestern in state tourney debut

Craig Wollman
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Wolsey-Wessington defeated Northwestern 3-2 on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the ‘B’ state volleyball championships. For the Lady Warbirds volleyball program, this is their first ever trip to the state tournament.

“They were so excited,” exclaimed head Wolsey-Wessington volleyball coach Lindy Uttecht. “Last year we made it to the SoDak 16 for the first time and lost to a very good Burke team. There were a lot of tears, but I think that was the motivation to this year.”

The Lady Warbirds won the first set 25-19 and 25-20 to take an early 2-0 lead. However, Northwestern came rolling back. The Wildcats won sets three and four (25-14 and 25-21) to tie it at 2-2. Then in the fifth set, Wolsey-Wessington came out on top 19-17.

Northwestern is one of the best overall volleyball programs in the state, winning twelve state championships since 1999.

“They just have a great program, a great reputation, a great coach. We knew we were going to have to be big at the net and then the one thing we talked about, we have three solid hitters in that front row who we needed to hit the ball as much as we could, not get into a tipping battle. A couple times we got into a tipping battle and lost today,” coach Uttecht explained. “And then just being here for the first time, we told the girls, just play. We’re here, just go out there and play, stay focused. We knew it was going to be loud in here, it’s a different atmosphere than we’re use to, but I thought they handled it well.”

Anytime a program advances to the state tournament for the first time, it’s bound to be special. But add in the fact that you win your first match in the tournament against a storied opponent like Northwestern, that just adds to the spectacle.

“I’m so excited for them, so proud of them. They adjusted well and I said “that’s what good teams do, they adjust.” They were just being leaders out there,” Uttecht said. “A lot of dancing and singing in [the locker room] right now.”

Up next for Wolsey-Wessington is a match with top seeded Warner in the semifinal round. The two teams faced each other earlier in the season, late August, which saw the Monarchs get the sweep over the Lady Warbirds.

“I’m going to let them celebrate. We’ve got a lot of fans here, we’re going to go back to the hotel and eat and celebrate, and then yeah, tonight we’ll have to regroup and look at Warner,” state Uttecht. “Maybe talk to some other coaches and get some info on them and game plan. I’m very blessed to have these girls, have these parents, and have these community members in our lives. It’s been fun and it’s been very exciting for our school.”

Warner and Wolsey-Wessington will play their semifinal match at 5 pm CT on Friday. That match will stream live online at

For complete stats of the Northwestern vs Wolsey-Wessington matchup, click here.

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.
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