The Sioux County Warriors took the Panhandle Conference Championship Saturday for the third consecutive year, defeating Crawford and Hemingford in two sets each and are now 16-4.
The Warriors entered the tourney as the number one seed and claimed the crown with a pair of 25-17 wins over Hemingford in the final round.
Hemingford won its opening round of play against Edgemont 25-14, 25-16 and then advanced to the championship after Hay Springs forfeited its semi-final game due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Bobcats took the early 2-0 lead in the title match before a Sioux County kill by Skylar Edmund tied the contest at 2, and a kill by Tamika Eastman put the Warriors up 4-3. From that point through set point 14, the teams were tied nine times before Sioux County moved ahead with kills by Eastman and Karlee Juhnke.
An ace serve by Eastman, two more kills by Edmund and a tip by Juhnke helped put the first set away. After an early tie at 3, the second set was dominated by the Warriors with Juhnke contributing three kills and Edmund and Kailey Klein adding two apiece. Edmund also had an ace serve, and Eastman added two aces and a kill. Setter Kodie Rempp scored back-to-back points with a tip and an ace serve.
In the semi-finals round, Sioux County triumphed over Crawford in sets of 25-17, 25-19. The first set was a back-and-forth affair in the early stretch, with ties at set points 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The Rams went on a 5-1 run for a 14-10 advantage.
Consecutive kills by Eastman and Rempp put the Warriors within two, but the Rams pulled away again for a 17-14 edge. With Rempp at the serving line, Sioux County rattled off nine points in action that saw four kills by Klein and Juhnke and an ace serve by Rempp. Up 23-17, Sioux County finished off the set four serves later.
Crawford struck first for an early 4-1 lead in the second set only to see the Warriors come back to tie the set at 4 on kills by Rempp and Juhnke. Rempp, Juhnke and Emily Parker added consecutive blocks on Crawford hitters to open up a 6-4 lead, which the Warriors never let go. Kills by Juhnke, Klein, Eastman and Parker aided the effort, as did another block by Rempp, and an ace serve by Juhnke.
Due to the forfeit by Hay Springs, the loss automatically awarded the Rams with third place in the tournament. Crawford defeated Morrill in the opening round of action in close sets of 25-22, 26-24. The Rams held an early 6-4 advantage but allowed Morrill to tie the contest three times before they took the lead again at 12-11.
Morrill charged back for another tie at 16 and then rallied for a three-point lead. Two kills by Morgan Jones and an ace serve by Skylar Summers kept Crawford in the game. The Rams were able to tie it at 20, and with two ace serves by Jones and two blocks by Natalie Barry took the win.
The second set was similar to the first, with the teams tying 10 different times. Trailing by two, the Rams’ Carly Lemmon put Crawford within one, and a kill by Hadlee Rudloff tied the contest at 21. Another Rudloff kill gave the Rams a 23-22 lead, and she followed that with another tip to tie the contest at 24. The Rams were able to clinch the set and advance to the semi-finals on Morrill errors.
Edgemont took fifth place in the tournament, downing Morrill in the consolation match 25-23, 25-16.