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Kernels drop five-set match to Brandon Valley

Mitchell's Emma Schmidt (3) battles for the ball with Brandon Valley's Hannah Paauw, left, and Briana Grage, right, during an ESD contest Saturday at Mitchell High School. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

Another day, another five-set match for the Mitchell High School volleyball team.

The Kernels, who have played four five setters this season, fell to Brandon Valley 25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 26-28, 17-15 in an Eastern South Dakota Conference match Saturday.

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“We started off making too many errors,” said Mitchell coach Deb Thill, whose team is 4-4. “I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or the special events that were going on. We missed way too many serves and were swinging out of bounds and making too many errors. Once we settled down and played our style, we were able to really do well.”

The Kernels have also played five-set matches against three other ESD opponents — Harrisburg, Pierre and Watertown this season. Mitchell defeated Harrisburg and fell to the Governors and Arrows.

“Once again we were in a position to win,” Thill said. “We are pretty even, so it will be like this throughout the conference.”

Brandon Valley took advantage of Mitchell’s early mistakes and was able to create a lot of opportunities at the net.

“Both teams fought hard,” Brandon Valley head coach Lindsey Smith said. “We just wanted to worry about our side of the net. In the first couple of games, our advantage was that we moved them around a lot on serve/receive.”

The Kernels finally got things going in the third set when they jumped out to a 12-4 lead, before finally taking the set 25-18.

Mitchell also had a commanding lead in the fourth set and appeared to be cruising to the set victory, but the Lynx, who trailed 21-15, battled back to tie the set. Mitchell defensive specialist Tricia Flemmer, who finished with nine digs and four aces, recorded consecutive aces to give the Kernels a 25-22 win to force a fifth set.

The Kernels got down early in the fifth 9-4 but battled back to tie the game at 10. The Kernels took a 15-14 lead after a Taylin Alm kill, but the Lynx took advantage of a serve error by the Kernels and eventually claimed the 17-15 win.

“When the game was tied at the end of the game I was serving and I was so nervous,” said senior Sidney Neugebauer, who had nine kills and 25 digs in the contest. “We made too many errors. It could have gone either way we just happened to make the last error.”

Taylor Sebert added 24 digs, while Alm had had 28 kills and four aces. Emma Schmidt had 41 assists, eight kills and 17 digs.

The Kernels continue their home stand Thursday at they host Huron at 7 p.m. at the high school.

NOTES: The match was the Kernels’ annual pink match, which raised funds for the You’ll Never Walk Alone foundation. … The 2003 Class AA state championship team was also recognized at the match.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Brandon Valley, 25-17, 25-18.

Sophomores: Brandon Valley, 28-26, 25-20.

Freshmen A: Brandon Valley, 25-18, 25-8.

Freshmen B: Brandon Valley, 25-19, 25-21.