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Kernels fall to Aberdeen Central in 3 sets

Mitchell’s Taylor Sebert goes for a dig during the second set of a high school volleyball game against Aberdeen Central Tuesday at Mitchell High School. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Aberdeen Central volleyball coach Dennis Northrup said his team played its best volleyball of the year Tuesday against the Mitchell Kernels.

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“We kind of finally got all our pieces put together,” the seventh-year coach said. “We were aggressive in everything we did and that was the secret to our success.”

The fourth-ranked Golden Eagles defeated Mitchell 25-13, 25-11, 25-9 in an Eastern South Dakota Conference contest at the Mitchell High School gymnasium.

The reigning ESD champion controlled the match from the start with a solid serve receive game. Aberdeen Central held a 13-8 lead over Mitchell in the first set before exploding on a 10-4 run that proved to be detrimental for the Kernels.

Northrup said his squad has worked hard on blocking practice and it held true as it held Mitchell outside hitter Taylin Alm, who is playing at Pepperdine University next year, to a season-low seven kills.

Alm came into the match 10 kills shy of 1,000 and sits at 997 career kills.

Leading the charge at the net for the Golden Eagles (12-3, 9-2 ESD) was Bridget White and Bri-anna Kusler. White finished with 11 kills and four aces, while Kusler had eight kills, one block and two aces.

“They came in on a mission to stop Taylin, and they played really well,” Mitchell head coach Deb Thill said. “You have to give them credit. We tried to counter what they were trying to do, and we weren’t successful. But the only way we can get better is to learn from these things.”

With Alm struggling against the Golden Eagle block, the Kernel offense struggled to get going. Mitchell (7-7, 4-7 ESD) was led by Emma Schmidt with 15 assists and three kills and Shelly Iburg and Alison Murphy each had three kills.

Thill said the difference in the game was her team’s hitting errors, adding Aberdeen Central forced a lot of hitting errors with good serving.

“We knew they were going to be a good coming in,” Thill said. “We needed to serve receive better than what we did tonight but that did not happen. We had our game plan and at times we were successful, but we were not able to execute many of the things we wanted to.”

Mitchell hits the court again 6 p.m. Central time Friday against Rapid City Central in Rapid City.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Aberdeen Central won 25-20, 25-21.

Sophomores: Mitchell won 13-25, 25-18, 26-24.

Freshmen A: Aberdeen Central won 25-13, 25-13.

Freshmen B: Mitchell won 25-13, 18-25, 25-18.