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Kernel rally falls short

Mitchell's Mandy Schmidt sets the ball during an Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball match on Thursday in Mitchell. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

A Kernel rally fell just short on Thursday.

After losing the first two sets to the Yankton Gazelles, the Mitchell Kernel volleyball team ended a 14-straight set losing streak to win sets three and four. It set-up a match-deciding fifth set.

However, Yankton was able to hold off the Mitchell comeback and earn an Eastern South Dakota Conference victory 3-2 in front of a loud crowd at the Mitchell High School gym.

Set scores were 25-18, 25-16, 22-25, 19-25, 15-7.

"In set five, it only goes to 15 (points) and if we get a couple lucky breaks, the momentum goes our way," Mitchell head coach Deb Thill said. "The breaks went the wrong way for us."

In the fifth set, Yankton (2-4) went on a four-point rally to take an 8-4 lead and never looked back. The Gazelles were led by Dakota Wesleyan University recruit Becky Frick, who finished the match with 18 kills, 23 digs, four blocks and three aces.

"We just started out slow," Mitchell's Megan Sebert said about the fifth set. "When it only goes to 15, you can't start slow."

Mitchell (0-5) started the match with an early lead in the first set, but Yankton tied the set up at 15 and took over for a 25-18 win. The second set was all Yankton as the Gazelles handed the Kernels a 25-16 defeat.

The third set was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams. Mitchell held an 18-15 lead that forced a Yankton timeout. A Mackenzie Miller kill stopped Yankton's rally and gave Mitchell a 24-22 lead. The Kernels held on to win the set 25-22.

Mitchell took control early in the fourth set and cruised to a 25-18 win that forced the game-deciding set.

"After sets three and four, I thought our girls were just thinking too much and I told them to just go out there and play the game in the fifth set," Yankton head coach Tiffany Beste said. "We went back to the way we were playing in sets one and two. You could just see it was smoother on our side. It was nice to come back and get a win."

Miller racked up 12 kills and 13 digs for a double-double, while Ally Goldammer added 11 kills and four blocks for the Kernels. Freshman setter Mandy Schmidt recorded 23 assists, 14 digs and two aces and Sebert finished with a team-high 15 digs and two aces.

"We stayed really aggressive and our defense was really good," Sebert said. "We served the ball a lot better too. We just have to keep playing till the end."

Thill said she was proud of her team's effort throughout the match.

"We know that we're getting better," Thill said. "We want to get the win but in the long run, we're learning and we're growing. We've just got to keep cutting down on our errors. This group works hard everyday and the wins will come."

Mitchell plays Huron on Tuesday in Mitchell.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Mitchell defeated Yankton 2-1. Set scores were 18-25, 25-22, 25-22. Tess Limberg led the Kernels with nine kills, 10 digs and two aces, while Chelsea Brewster added five kills, one block and three aces.

Sophomore: Mitchell won 2-1. Set scores were 25-22, 19-25, 25-21.

Freshmen A: Mitchell won 2-1. Set scores were 25-14, 21-25, 25-15.

Freshmen B: Mitchell won 2-0. Set scores were 25-23, 25-11.