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Mitchell volleyball gets ESD sweep over Yankton

Mitchell’s Alison Murphy, left, and Rachel Bucholz, right, attempt to block a kill from Yankton’s Hailey Bockholt during the second set of a high school volleyball game Thursday in Mitchell. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

For 23 years, Mitchell head coach Deb Thill has been the face of Kernel volleyball.

Thill started as the program’s first head coach in 1991 and hit another milestone Thursday as the Kernels beat Yankton 25-14, 25-14, 25-13, garnering Thill her 400th career victory.

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“It is a nice win, but I would prefer that we concentrate on getting more wins throughout the season,” said Thill, who joked that the milestone is telling her age. “It doesn’t matter how many wins I get. I just want these kids to keep getting wins.”

She said the majority of credit goes to the players she has coached along the way.

“We have had some great volleyball players to come from this program,” Thill said. “We have also had some great teams and have always competed pretty well at the double-A level.”

One of Thill’s best teams was her 2003 squad, which is the only volleyball team to win the Class AA championship in school history.

One of the top players Thill has coached plays this season. Taylin Alm led the Kernels over the Gazelles in the Eastern South Dakota Conference win, recording 19 kills and five aces.

Alm, who became Mitchell’s all-time career kill record holder Tuesday, helped the Kernels jump out to an 8-3 lead in the first set.

Mitchell (7-6, 5-6 ESD) went on to win the set 25-14 with solid serving led by Alm and Kennedy Ischen, who finished with three aces.

The Gazelle’s didn’t have much success fending off the Kernels’ frontline. Yankton (1-12, 1-11 ESD) trailed 8-4 early in the second set but managed to battle back and tie the game at 10. But the Kernels went on a 5-1 run to take command of the set, eventually winning the set 25-14.

Mitchell took the momentum through the third set for the win.

The Kernels were in attack mode all night and didn’t give the Gazelles many opportunities to score.

Mitchel got offensive contributions from Sidney Neugebauer, Emma Schmidt, Rachel Bucholz, Shelly Iburg and Alison Murphy. Schmidt had 29 assists, 10 digs and four kills, while Iburg had six kills. Neugebauer had four kills and 11 digs, Murphy added three kills and Bucholz had two kills.

“I thought we did a good job of coming out strong and eliminating errors,” senior setter Emma Schmidt said. “Errors have cost us games in the past. I think this win really brought confidence to our team, and we did a good job with serve/receive and playing good defense.” 

First-year Yankton coach Tiffany Beste said the Kernels did a good job of taking her team out of the game.

“They took us out of our serve/receive almost the whole match, and Taylin Alm had a good game against us,” Beste said. “I think we really struggled to find any rhythm all night.”

Yankton was led by Becky Frick and Sophie Drotzmann. Frick had six kills, one ace and eight digs, while Drotzmann had five kills and one block. Morgyn Jaquith added nine assists and five digs.

The Kernels host Aberdeen Central Tuesday, while Yankton hosts Watertown Saturday.

NOTES: Mitchell’s Taylin Alm was honored for setting the school’s all-time career mark. The senior outside hitter is coming up on 1,000 career kills.

Subvarsity scores:

JV: Yankton won 21-25, 25-20, 25-21. Kristi Anderson had 22 digs, while Aly Goldammer had 10 kills and one block.

Sophomores: Yankton won 25-20, 25-20.

Freshmen A: Mitchell won 25-23, 25-15.

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