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Mitchell volleyball meets its match at Brandon Valley

BRANDON--For a team that has feasted on its home-court advantage so far this season, the Mitchell High School volleyball team tested its game on the road Tuesday night.

Mitchell's Haley Burdick (12) and Chelsea Brewster (14) attempt to block a kill attempt from Brandon Valley's Paige Timmons during an ESD volleyball match Tuesday in Brandon. Pictured in the background is Mitchell's Lauren Larson (yellow). (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Mitchell's Haley Burdick (12) and Chelsea Brewster (14) attempt to block a kill attempt from Brandon Valley's Paige Timmons during an ESD volleyball match Tuesday in Brandon. Pictured in the background is Mitchell's Lauren Larson (yellow). (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

BRANDON-For a team that has feasted on its home-court advantage so far this season, the Mitchell High School volleyball team tested its game on the road Tuesday night.

There, the Brandon Valley Lynx didn't allow the Kernels to get much going, pulling away after a tight first game for a three-set win in Eastern South Dakota Conference play in Brandon.

Set scores were 27-25, 25-19, 25-13.

Playing away from its warm, rowdy home gym at MHS, the Kernels struggled in the serve-receive game and couldn't ever quite find a rhythm on the court. On the other side of the net, the Class AA No. 5-ranked Lynx passed well and didn't miss many quality chances to score at the net.

"I thought Brandon Valley played an excellent game. They just didn't miss many chances and they looked a lot like the team that was playing well at the end of last year," said Mitchell coach Deb Thill of the Lynx, who started six seniors and a junior on Tuesday.

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"They passed the ball very well and that's going to be tough to stop," she added.

Mitchell's best chance of winning a set came right away in set one, when the Kernels had a big rally out of an early 8-3 hole. MItchell's quick 8-2 run in response briefly put the Kernels ahead, thanks to a Chelsea Brewster kill to tie and a Megan Sebert ace to make it 11-10 MHS. The lead would end back up mostly in BV's hands until it was 22-22. Again, the pairing of a Brewster kill and a Sebert ace brought up set point at 24-22. But a kill from the Lynx's Elsie Zajicek and another from Hannah Jellema answered the bell for BV.

When Mitchell scored again on a BV error, Jellema drilled another kill to make it 25-25, taking away the third Kernel set-point chance. Jellema then hit an ace and Morgan Moelter's kill allowed BV to escape 27-25.

"We had our chances right there," Thill said. "That's an opportunity we'll have to learn to close out.

The second set was all Brandon Valley from the get-go, starting with a 4-0 run from the first point. A series of errors at the net would allow Mitchell as close as 18-15 but BV controlled matters down the stretch with four of its last five points coming via kills.

"I told our girls that we had to come out and protect our home court," Lynx head coach Dacia Boehrns. "Because that's what the good teams do, they win at home and they take care of business against good teams like Mitchell. They played with that sense of urgency we needed."

Brandon Valley (3-2, 2-2 ESD) had already been beaten at home this season in a three-set shocker at the hands of Huron.

The third set was never in doubt, either, as the Lynx quickly moved to a 9-3 lead and winning the set by 12 points.

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The Kernels, who received consideration in the South Dakota Sportswriters Association Class AA volleyball poll this week, were paced by the sophomore Brewster, who had 10 kills. Mackenzie Miller had five kills and a team-high nine digs for Mitchell. Mandy Schmidt had 18 set assists in the middle and Sebert and Haley Burdick each had two aces. Carly Haring had two blocks for Mitchell.

And the Kernels (3-2, 2-2 ESD) can quickly put the match behind them. Mitchell is back in the friendly home gym on Thursday, hosting the Gazelles from Yankton. While Thill said the Kernels will have to be better at creating their own energy on the road, they'll be comfortable at home on Thursday.

"It's just one match and we know we can play better, we know we can bounce back," Thill said. "We'll get back in our gym, we'll have our crowd again and we'll give it another shot."

Subvarsity

JV: Mitchell won 25-14, 25-16. Sage Jorgensen had 10 digs, two kills and a block. Brooke Flemmer had three aces and five assists. Lesley Van Drongelen had nine digs.

Sophomore: Mitchell won 17-25, 25-14, 15-13.

Freshman A: Brandon Valley won 25-16, 25-16

Freshman B: Brandon Valley won 18-25, 25-17, 15-10.

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Mitchell's Lauren Larson reaches to make a dig during an Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball match Tuesday against Brandon Valley. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Mitchell's Lauren Larson reaches to make a dig during an Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball match Tuesday against Brandon Valley. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALLKERNELS
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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