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Kernels struggle to solve O'Gorman's attack in home opener

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Sioux Falls O'Gorman's Grace Bengford (21) spikes a ball past the block attempt of Mitchell's Katy Sebert (16) and Mary Baltzer (11) during a match on Saturday at Mitchell High School. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

After six matches on the road to start the season, Mitchell High School made its home debut on Saturday.

The guests for the occasion happened to be one of the top volleyball teams in the state and Class AA No. 1 Sioux Falls O’Gorman did not give the Kernels a welcome homecoming.

The Knights jumped out to an early lead and their hitting power proved to be too much for Mitchell to handle in a three-set sweep, 25-10, 25-8 and 25-14.

“They have a lot of experience,” MHS head coach Deb Thill said. “They should be very good and they are really good.”

O’Gorman’s hitting did most of the damage to Mitchell (1-6), which made nine errors in service situations and allowed 15 aces, with 11 coming from Raegen Reilly. The Knights used a variety of offensive weapons, but none more effective than Emma Ronsiek, who produced 20 kills.

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The struggles receiving serves cut into the offensive production for the Kernels, as they could not get into their system for the majority of the match.

The Knights had 98 kill attempts to Mitchell’s 44, while also having 72 serve attempts to 21 for the Kernels.

“That’s a big part of (O’Gorman’s) offense -- their serve receive,” Thill said. “We’ve been working really hard and I was hoping that we would pass a little bit better than we did. Our setter, Katy (Sebert), was hardly ever in system to be able set the ball up. They’re one of the top Class AA teams, so we just have to keep working hard.”

Mitchell was able to stay within striking distance of O’Gorman (8-1) through most of the third set, but the Knights scored nine of the final 15 points to secure the sweep.

“That was our goal in that third set -- to play hard and get better,” Thill said. “I thought we did that in the third set. We’ve only had one home match and we’re only going to have one more in September. We’ve been on the road a lot, but we’ve played some tough teams. The only way to get better is to play better.”

Regan Waddell finished with five kills, while Katy Sebert had 11 assists and Sarah Sebert came up with 12 digs for the Kernels.

Bergen Reilly had six kills and 19 assists and Raegen Reilly had six kills and 14 assists, while Grace Bengford had five kills for the Knights.

Mitchell returns to action against Sioux Falls Lincoln at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Sioux Falls. O’Gorman travels to Rapid City on Saturday for matches against Rapid City Central and Stevens.

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