The Mitchell High School volleyball team improved upon its serve-receive on Thursday, while its blocking and defense weren't bad either.

The No. 4 Kernels nipped Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Aberdeen Central in a five-set match on Thursday at the Mitchell High School Gym. Set scores were 25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 24-26 and 15-8.

"That was a fun volleyball match," Aberdeen Central coach Dennis Northrup said. "You are not going to find a better atmosphere to play in."

On Tuesday, the Kernels fell to Watertown 3-1 as serve-receive breakdowns hurt them in the match. But on Thursday, the Kernels were sharper in that category.

Mitchell's blocking and defense also lifted it to the win. The Kernels-especially Carly Haring and Chelsea Brewster-protected things at the net.

"Our kids did a really nice job at the net," Mitchell coach Deb Thill said. "A lot of good touches and that's what we needed to do. We needed to serve better and we needed to serve-receive better. We serve-received a lot better."

Haring finished with a solo block and six block assists, while Brewster added one solo and two block assists. Offensively, Brewster finished with 20 kills and Haring added 17 kills.

"That was awesome," Brewster said about the blocks. "Especially for us backrow players. I know I told Carly after the game it is a huge help in the backrow and she just takes it away and stuffs it down."

But the Kernels (11-3, 4-2 ESD) still had trouble shaking the Golden Eagles (5-5, 1-3 ESD). Mitchell narrowly edged Aberdeen Central in the first two sets by just two points each.

"They are always kind of a tough team," Brewster said. "We always battle hard with them and I know they want to play hard when they come and play us."

The Golden Eagles, led by sophomore Brooklyn Kusler's 22 kills and 20 digs, evened the match at 2-2 after taking the third and fourth sets. Mitchell led 11-3 in the fourth set, but the Golden Eagles rallied back. The set was tied at 22-22, 23-23 and 24-24 before Aberdeen Central scored the final two points.

"Give Aberdeen credit," Thill said. "They made some great adjustments, found our open areas and we didn't adjust fast enough."

Mitchell adjusted in the fifth set and bolted out to a 10-3 lead.

"Just too many unforced errors in the fifth game," Northrup said. "We made all the mistakes and they just kept the ball in play and let us make mistakes."

It was the second time in a week that Mitchell gave up a 2-0 lead, but ultimately hung on for the victory.

"I am really proud of how we fight back," Mitchell setter Mandy Schmidt said. "Even when we struggle a little bit, we find a way to win and pull it out."

Schmidt finished with 50 assists and 16 digs. Mackenzie Miller had 14 kills. Bridget Thill had 19 digs. For Aberdeen Central, Cassidy Gough had 14 kills and 12 digs. Grace Myhre had 48 assists.

The Kernels play at Brookings on Tuesday. The Golden Eagles are at Huron on Saturday.

Subvarsity scores

JV: Aberdeen Central 20-25, 25-17, 16-14. Amy Uher had 4 kills and 10 digs. Katy Sebert had 14 assists, 2 aces and 4 digs.

Sophomore: Mitchell won 15-25, 25-23, 15-11.

Freshman A: Aberdeen Central won 25-19, 25-17.

Freshman B: Aberdeen Central won 26-24, 25-18.