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Kernels edged by Watertown in fifth set

Mitchell’s Emma Schmidt (3) and Rachel Bucholz (10) attempts to block a kill by Watertown’s McKenzie Werner (16) in an ESD volleyball match Tuesday in Watertown. (Rich Remmers/Public Opinion)


Watertown Public Opinion

WATERTOWN — Watertown showed its potential on Tuesday evening with a hard-fought 3-2 Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball win over Mitchell in the Civic Arena.

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The Arrows had to battle the entire match to come away with a close win over a solid Kernel squad. Mitchell won the opening game 25-21 before the Arrows evened the match with a 26-24 victory in the second game.

After the Kernels took the third game 25-18, the Arrows responded with a 25-8 win, and then held off Mitchell in the fifth game for a 15-13 win.

“We were in a position to win the match and that is all that you can ask your team to do especially when you are on the road,” said Mitchell head coach Deb Thill, whose team played its first six of seven matches on the road this season. “In less than two weeks, we spent a lot of time on the bus, but hopefully that will make us a stronger better team in the end and when we get to play at home hopefully that will show up.”

The Kernels return home Saturday to host Brandon Valley at 7 p.m. in their annual Dig Pink match at the high school.

Things didn’t look so promising for the Arrows (3-2, 3-1 ESD) in the early going. Mitchell broke a 21-21 tie and scored the final four points in the opening game to strike first.

The Kernels (4-3, 2-3 ESD) did most of their damage when 6-foot-4 senior Taylin Alm was at the net. Alm continued to pound away at the smaller Arrows, who looked overmatched at times.

After winning the first game, the Kernels looked to be on the verge of taking a commanding 2-0 lead when they held a 24-22 advantage in Game 3.

Watertown responded with the final four points to even the match. Danielle Duncan had a block and Sydney Dale followed with an ace to go ahead 25-24 before McKenzie Werner blasted the game-winning kill on the next point.

“It was really big to win that second game after dropping the first one,” Watertown head coach Kim Rohde said. “We keep playing these taller teams with really good hitters, but we keep moving forward and don’t dwell on the mistakes or losses in a match. We keep fighting.”

Mitchell regained the advantage after a victory in the third game but that’s when things changed for the Arrows.

With their backs against the wall, the Arrows came out fighting in the fourth game and cruised to an easy victory.

Watertown rode the momentum from the fourth set to a 10-5 lead in the deciding fifth set. The Kernels didn’t go away, though.

Mitchell battled back and took a 13-12 lead on a kill by Alm, but it was the last points the Kernels would score. Werner tied the game with a kill and Gottsleben followed with another to put the Arrows on top 14-13. Werner’s spike off a Kernel blocker on the next point proved to be the game-winner.

Werner finished with a team-high 12 kills and had two blocks to lead the Arrows.

Alm had a game-high 22 kills and added six aces and four blocks for the Kernels. Kennedy Ischen added six kills, Emma Schmidt recorded 25 assists and 15 digs and Sidney Neugebauer led in digs with 15.

“We had too many errors to win the match, but I saw a lot of progress,” Thill said. “I think our defense played its best match of the season, but we had too many hitting errors to win the game.”

Watertown 21 26 18 25 15

Mitchell 25 24 25 8 13

Serving: Watertown: Sydney Dale 34-34, 3 aces; Danielle Gottsleben 17-17, 2 aces; Mitchell: Taylin Alm 6 aces.

Hitting: Watertown: McKenzie Werner 36-44, 12 kills; Holly Becking 9-9, 6 kills; Gottsleben 16-19, 4 kills; Mitchell: Alm 52-65, 22 kills; Kennedy Ischen 21-23, 6 kills.

Setting: Watertown: Dale 115-116, 21 assists; Mitchell: Emma Schmidt 121-122, 25 assists.

Blocking: Watertown: Werner 1 solo, 1 assisted; Mitchell: Alm 3 solo, 1 assisted; Rachel Bucholz 1 solo, 2 assisted.

Digs: Watertown: Macy Denzer 17; Megan Pfeifer 14; Dale 13; Mitchell: Sidney Neugebauer 15; Schmidt 12.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Watertown, 25-18, 25-17. Allie Goldammer had four kills and two blocks.

Sophomores: Watertown, 24-26, 25-14, 25-16.

Freshmen A: Watertown, 25-16, 26-24.

Freshmen B: Watertown, 26-24, 18-25, 25-22.