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Mitchell begins its season at Huron Invite

HURON—The Mitchell High School volleyball team opened its 2018 campaign on Saturday with a quartet of games in the Huron Invitational.

The Kernels entered the season as the No. 5 team in Class AA in the South Dakota Prep Media preseason poll and at times looked the part. Mitchell won three of its four games in the tournament, only faltering against No. 3 Sioux Falls O'Gorman in the third match of the day.

"We definitely found some things out about ourselves that we need to work on," Mitchell head coach Deb Thill said. "Overall, I was happy with our offense playing steady throughout the day."

Mitchell opened the tournament with a two-set win over Douglas, 25-6 and 25-13, in what turned into a mismatch. The Kernels recorded 13 aces in the match and Chelsea Brewster and Carly Haring each had five kills.

The success continued in the second match, this time with another two-set win over Brookings. After a tight first set that ended 25-22, Mitchell was able to pull away in the second with a 25-13 win. Mandy Schmidt had a big match, handing out 26 assists. Haring was the recipient of many of those passes and she made the most of them, coming away with 14 kills, while Brewster had 13 digs.

The third match against O'Gorman was the lone hiccup on the day for the Kernels. The Knights flexed their muscles in a two-set win, 25-20 and 25-7.

While passing was a bright spot throughout the day, O'Gorman's aggressive serves put Mitchell in peril, resulting in the loss.

"I guess our kids were not quite ready for that, so we struggled a little bit passing," Thill said. "When you serve aggressively, sometimes you're gonna be on and sometimes you're gonna be off and they were definitely on against us."

Mitchell managed to bounce back in the final match of the day to finish on a positive note. After dropping the first set to Brandon Valley, the Kernels rebounded to take the next two in convincing fashion, winning the match 18-25, 25-11 and 25-14.

Schmidt was on point once again, recording 38 assists in the three-set win, while Haring and Brewster had 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Bridget Thill also had a match-high 18 digs.

"After the first set, we really passed the ball well," Deb Thill said. "We were very aggressive against Brandon Valley and we kept them out of system a lot. I think they have five or six kids that are 6-foot or above and for us to be successful, we had to keep them off the net and I thought our kids did a good job."

Mitchell (3-1) welcomes Pierre to town Tuesday for its home opener at 7 p.m.

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