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Sports: Another heartbreaker: Kernels take 2-1 lead, fall short to Spartans

The first two matches of the year for the Mitchell High volleyball team have been puzzling ones. On Friday, the Kernels went up 1-0 only to see the Scoopers come back and win 3-1. On Saturday afternoon at the high school, Mitchell fell behind Spe...

The first two matches of the year for the Mitchell High volleyball team have been puzzling ones.

On Friday, the Kernels went up 1-0 only to see the Scoopers come back and win 3-1.

On Saturday afternoon at the high school, Mitchell fell behind Spearfish 1-0 only to come back to take a 2-1 lead. However, the Spartans came back to beat the Kernels just like the Scoopers did in a 3-2 win for the West Rivers school.

Spearfish won 25-21, 14-25, 14-25, 25-23 and 15-12.

"We have inexperience on the floor and we need to be in Game 5 situations to make us better," MHS head coach Deb Thill said. "We can't be 10 points ahead in every game and we have to learn how to close out. You have to be able to win the close ones."

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The Spartans led the deciding fifth game 8-3 before Mitchell showed some life to come within 9-8 when a hit from Spearfish's Bridget Decker went long. A hit in the net from Spearfish's Kassidy Tetrault tied it at 11, but that's as close as the game got the rest of the way.

Spearfish went on a 3-0 run to make it 14-11 after a tip from Kelsey Bosworth. A kill from Mitchell senior outside hitter Megan Kirby made it 14-12, but the match ended in heart-breaking fashion. Mitchell junior setter Kelsey Thie hit a serve into the net and Spearfish pulled it out 15-12.

"It's pretty tough to take, but we can only learn from our mistakes," Kirby said of the loss. "I think it will help us out in the long run. I think we get too excited sometimes. We tried to keep each other up. We missed a lot of serves and our serve-receive needs to get a lot better."

After losing in Game 1, the Kernels came storming back in the second game. MHS built a 15-8 lead halfway through the game after a tip over the net by senior outside hitter Jenny Kee. The Kernels ended the game on a 10-6 run and ended it on a kill from junior Melissa Muehler to tie it up.

MHS dominated the third game. The Kernels took the lead for good at 4-3 on a kill from Kirby. Mitchell had its first double-digit lead at 21-11 when senior outside hitter Shanna Iburg slammed home a kill. A kill from Ashley Dorale ended it in favor of Mitchell at 25-14.

In the critical fourth game, the Kernels led early, but Spearfish started to make a run after the Kernels had a brief 4-2 edge. Back-to-back kills from the Spartans' Erika Carlson put her team up 5-4. Mitchell didn't break and tied the match at 11 and took a 15-12 lead when Kirby landed a kill.

The Spartans tied it up at 16, but Mitchell responded to take a 20-17 and 22-20 leads. A hit in the net from Kee tied it at 22 before Spearfish ended it with a 3-1 run. The game ended on an ace from Tetrault.

Kee and Iburg led the Kernels with nine kills each and Iburg added three blocks. In addition, Muehler had five kills and 17 digs, Melissa Dorale had 20 digs, Thie had five aces and nine digs and setter Kendra Knight had 30 set assists.

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"Shanna Iburg only had one hitting error in the whole match and she played really well," Thill said. "We had 25 hitting errors against Sturgis and we cut down on that (today). I thought that part of our game was much better."

Up next, Mitchell starts its Eastern South Dakota Conference season with a match at Huron at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Mitchell JV lost to Spearfish 25-22, 17-25, 25-27, the sophomore team beat Spearfish 25-18, 25-16 and the freshman team won 25-22 and 25-16.

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