Kernels volleyball falls in three setsABERDEEN — In an early season contest featuring two of the state’s top ranked volleyball teams, the squad with the most pieces in place won the match.
By: Deb Smith, Aberdeen American News
ABERDEEN — In an early season contest featuring two of the state’s top ranked volleyball teams, the squad with the most pieces in place won the match.
Top ranked in Class AA this week, Aberdeen Central downed Mitchell, which is ranked fifth, 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 Tuesday at Golden Eagles Arena in the first Eastern South Dakota Conference action of the season for both teams. Central returned all but one player from the team that finished third at the state tournament last season.
“Right now they are a better ball-control team which is part defense as well, and they should be coming into the season,” said Mitchell coach Deb Thill.
The Kernels are in the process of getting comfortable on the court with each other.
“Mitchell is rated five in the state and they have some pieces,” said Central coach Dennis Northrup. “The big girl (Taylin Alm) is hard for us to hit around. Their libero (Megan Farnham) is solid and their setter (Kendra Morgan) is pretty good. So those three pieces work well.”
Alm finished the night with seven kills while Farnham had 19 digs and Morgan finished with 13 digs and 16 assists.
It was the younger Kernel squad that took an early lead in the first two games. Falling behind early has become a trait of the Golden Eagles early in the season.
“Every game this season we started out shaky and had to come back from that like in the last match (a win over Sturgis),” said Central setter Kelsey Hannigan. “Before the last game tonight (Tuesday) Coach Northrup said, ‘Let’s start out on top in this one.’ We all relaxed and had a little bit more fun.”
In the third game Central used a flurry of kills and blocks to run out to a 13-3 lead. The Kernels kept chipping away and on back-to-back kills by Jenna Neugebauer and Kerri Young pulled to within four points at 19-15. Two kills by Central’s Samantha Knecht boosted the Golden Eagles lead to 23-16.
Central missed a serve and Young connected on three straight kills and suddenly it was a 23-20 game. Central’s Amanda Tobin came delivered a kill and Hannigan had a little tip for match point.
Every hitter has a good night,” said Hannigan who finished with 27 set assists and 10 digs. “Tobin just had the hot hand at the net tonight. All the hitters get a chance and they all come through by the end of the night. It’s nice to get that first ESD win out of the way.”
Tobin smacked nine kills and three ace serves. Knecht had a team high of 12 kills and Lauren McCafferty added 11 kills.
The Kernels are 2-1 overall.
“I was very happy with some of the things I saw from my team tonight,” said Thill. “We’ve not played together a lot and we’ll have to learn. I think we’re only going to keep getting better.”
Central missed just 10 serves in the match and recorded 11 aces.
“Our serving accuracy-wise was pretty good but we weren’t really going after a lot of serves,” said Northrup. “Our problem was we served 30 times to their libero and she’s the best passer on the court. We don’t serve at the libero. Very few times will we serve at the other team’s libero.”
The defense is one area of concern for the Golden Eagles.
“Our blocking always sets up our defense and I don’t feel like we’re getting there on time, especially early in matches. We’ve been behind in every game we started this year. It’s like our front row is not quite ready to go. There’s way too many times when we have a single block. We should have a double block up always. That’s where our defense is struggling. If you’re a back row player and the block’s not where it’s supposed to be, it makes it a lot harder,” said Northrup.
In upcoming action Mitchell will host Watertown in an ESD match on Thursday in Mitchell. Aberdeen Central will play a conference match at Brandon Valley on Saturday.
Aberdeen also won the sophomore match — 25-10, 25-8 — as well as two ninth-grade contests.