After winning three of five games in Rapid City, the Yankton Gazelles volleyball team has dropped their last two matches. 

Sioux Falls Roosevelt (14-13) deflated the Gazelles 25-12, 25-22, 25-17 on Tuesday evening at the Yankton High School gymnasium.

“Roosevelt is a really good team,” Yankton head coach Shanna Koenig said. “They play clean and are organized. We had done our homework and allowed our defense to take a larger role. I was really proud of the girls, for taking an initiative. We played with more heart than I have seen in a long time.”

The Rough Riders dominated the ball and momentum for the majority of the first set.

“We have been fighting the self-confidence thing and learning to play through pressure,” Koenig said. “Overall, I am proud of the unity and teamwork that they showed.”

Yankton (4-22) responded in a progressive manner in the second set. Although they clung to a 21-20 lead, Roosevelt went on a 5-1 run that slashed the Gazelles hopes of a comeback.

“They came out (in the second set) with a determined mentality and had a lot of fun,” Koenig said. “That makes all the difference, and we put it together at the net.”

In the last set, the Rough Riders found their consistency they had from the start of the contest. At one point, they maintained a 21-12 lead, which was too hefty for Yankton to dig themselves out of.

“Had we not made some serving errors at crucial times, it might have been a different ball-game,” Koenig said. “Even in the third set, we were down, but they kept rallying back and that is important.”

Jess Reinhardt led Yankton with nine digs, six kills and two aces. Ivy Mines defended 13 digs, while Maddy Hochstein contributed five kills, three digs and two aces.

“I thought we had played with more cohesion,” Koenig said. “Over the course of the season, even if we didn’t win, we had moments where we were playing like a unified team. That’s something we have been working all season.”

The Rough Riders took the junior-varsity match 25-18, 25-14. Carissa Salvatori ad Chloe McDermott led Yankton with five kills each. Hannah Muth included seven digs and three assists.

In the sophomore match, Roosevelt won 25-20, 25-14. Allie Dilts led the Gazelles defense with five digs. Morgan Sundleaf, Lilly Thoms and Ella Mulder each delivered two kills.

The Riders swept the Freshman ‘A’ contest 25-20, 25-18. Yankton was led by Emily Reinhardt with four kills, four digs and two aces. In the ‘B’ match, Roosevelt won 25-18, 25-17. Britta Pietla led the way for the Gazelles with six kills, four digs and a block.

Discussing the final match of the season, against Sioux Falls O’Gorman (25-5) on Thursday, Koenig feels her team needs to shift their mindset for the future.

“Thursday will be senior night against O’Gorman,” she said. “I’ve learned how the girls operate and have seen some things I want to evolve with the program, as well. Character is shown when you are losing at its fullest extent. You see it in the coaches, the athletes and the parents. So, I think, moving forward we need to learn how to win and we need to change our mentality. Knowing you can win is a lot different that playing hoping that you don’t lose.”

The match will start at 7p.m.

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