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Kernels top Tigers, take 7th place again

Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Mitchell's Taylin Alm tips the ball over Huron's MaKayla Goergen during a seventh-place match at the Class AA state volleyball tournament Saturday.

RAPID CITY - Every team's goal is to win its last match of the season, and the Kernels did just that.

The Mitchell volleyball team took seventh place for the second straight year, beating the Huron Tigers in four sets Saturday at the Class AA state volleyball tournament at Rapid City Central High School.

"We talked about giving it all we had, and we told the girls to make sure they end this season with a special win," said Mitchell head coach Deb Thill, whose team won 18-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-23. "We felt we were pretty close to be playing at night after that first round, and for us to get this final win is a nice way to end the season."

Junior Taylin Alm broke a school record for the number of kills in the season on her first kill of the match. Alm tied Dana Misiaszek's record of 413 kills against Sioux Falls O'Gorman Friday.

Alm led the Kernels with 15 kills in the match, setting the new record at 428 kills. Alm was the only Mitchell player to be named to the all-tournament team.

Senior Kendra Morgan said the team pulled together to defeat its biggest rival Huron.

"Everyone stepped up and played their best effort for every ball," said Morgan, who had 20 set assists, six kills, three aces, two blocks and two digs in the win. "We said before the game that this game has to be our best game because we want to end on a good note, and every game we beat Huron is a great match and especially this last match."

It was Morgan's last match as a Kernel, along with fellow seniors Megan Farnham, Jenna Neugebauer and Kerri Young.

Huron took control of the first set at 9-8, winning five straight points. The Tigers went on to take the opening set 25-18 with a kill from Katelyn Allerdings.

Huron had the 12-8 in the second set when Mitchell went on a 7-0 run, giving it the 15-12 lead. The Kernels maintained the lead and had three set points.

The Tigers fought back, winning five consecutive points, and earned a set point at 25-24. After a Huron kill error, Mitchell won the set 27-25, earning two points on a kill by Kerri Young and another Tiger kill error.

Thill said her team was able to leave errors from the first two sets behind it.

"We cleaned it up, passed and defended a little bit better after the first two sets," she said. "We started to play with more urgency and the momentum stayed with us."

With the third set tied at 12, Mitchell went on an 8-2 run. The Kernels kept the lead and won the last two points on a Huron kill error and a kill by Alm.

The fourth set came down to the wire as there were many ties throughout the set. At 23-23, Alm took control on the court and plunged two back-to-back kills to the floor, giving Mitchell the victory.

Farnham led all players with 38 digs, Young recorded 10 kills and two blocks and Emma Schmidt added five kills, 16 digs and one ace. Jenna Neugebauer had eight digs, two blocks and one ace and Sidney Neugebauer had four kills, 11 digs and two aces.

Huron's Allerdings, who made the all-tournament team, led all players with 30 kills and added 12 digs and one block in the loss. MaKayla Goergen had 43 set assists and 16 digs.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.