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Mitchell falls to Arrows in four sets

Mitchell’s Trisha Flemmer records a dig during the third set of an ESD matchup against Watertown Tuesday at Mitchell High School. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

After dropping its fourth straight match Tuesday, Mitchell volleyball coach Deb Thill said it’s time for her team to dig deeper.

“I have intelligent kids on this team, and we have got to step and push for wins,” said Thill, whose team lost 25-22, 12-25, 25-19, 25-22 to Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Watertown Tuesday at the high school. “We have all the tools that we need.”

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For the seventh time this season, the Kernels (4-6, 2-6 ESD) dropped the opening set of a match. Both teams fought back-and-forth for control of the opening set. Mitchell took an early 6-3 lead in the set, but Watertown stormed back to grab an 11-6 lead.

Yet, the Kernels did not succumb that easy, fighting to tie the game at 17-17 and eventually taking a 21-18 lead.

Mitchell’s momentum was halted when Watertown head coach Kim Rohde called a time out to gather her troops. After the break, the Arrows scored three straight points to tie it up before taking the set 25-22.

“When we were good, we were good,” said Thill, whose team has lost three of its four home matches this season. “But we probably shot ourselves in the foot a few times in sets one, three and four. We cut down on hitting errors and serve/receive errors, but we had too many blocking errors.”

Mitchell didn’t take kindly to the first-set loss and put together a virtually mistake-free second set. The Kernels rode Kennedy Ischen, who recorded four aces, to help the Mitchell take the set 25-12.

“I just thought I had to go back there and get us on a run, so we could be successful,” Ischen said. “I just did my job.”

Emma Schmidt added 35 assists and 10 digs, while Taylin Alm had a game-high 25 kills, 15 digs and four aces. Taylor Sebert and Trisha Flemmer each had 15 digs, while Sidney Neugebauer tallied five kills and 30 digs. Rachel Bucholz had six kills in the loss.

“We still can improve, but as a team when we come together we are pretty great,” Ischen said.

In the third set, Mitchell maintained tight lead in the early going. The Kernels held a 12-10 edge, but the Arrows rallied once again, going on an 8-2 run. The Arrows went on to take the set 25-19.

After trailing 17-11 in set four, Mitchell mounted one last comeback. The Kernels went on a 5-0 run to close the gap, but Watertown squashed all hopes and finished off the set, winning 25-22.

“It was a great game,” Rohde said. “I thought we played well defensively, and we knew that we had to come in and play tough defense because of Taylin Alm.”

The Kernels look to end their streak when they play Brookings Thursday in Brookings.

Subvarsity scores:

JV: Watertown won 25-18, 25-18. Kaylyn Schulte had four aces and McKenzie Kotrba had six digs and five kills.

Sophomores: Watertown won 25-11, 25-12.

Freshmen A: Watertown won 25-13, 25-10.

Freshmen B: Watertown won 25-18, 19-25, 25-23.