Pierre pulls playoff upset of top seed Kernels
The Mitchell High School volleyball team learned exactly how hard it is to defeat a team for a third time in a season Tuesday night. The top-seeded Kernels were knocked off by No. 4-seed Pierre in a four-set, District 3AA opening-round match at t...
The Mitchell High School volleyball team learned exactly how hard it is to defeat a team for a third time in a season Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Kernels were knocked off by No. 4-seed Pierre in a four-set, District 3AA opening-round match at the raucous MHS gym, in which the Governors seemingly stayed one step ahead of the Kernels.
Set scores were 25-23, 25-23, 18-25, 27-25.
After Mitchell defeated Pierre in three sets eight days prior, the Governors managed to serve and serve-receive better and matched the power volleyball attack from the Kernels.
"We were just better than we were last time in that part of the game," said Pierre coach Chris Swiden. "That made a huge difference for us."
Mitchell coach Deb Thill gave credit to Pierre's defensive effort, keeping balls alive.
"That kind of fueled their fire a bit," she said. "I thought our kids did a nice job of coming back a bit and sometimes the game is a game of inches and lucky breaks, I thought that we didn't quite maybe get the breaks tonight."
The match tipped toward Pierre in the first set, as the Govs rallied back from an early 11-3 deficit in the early stages. Mackenzie Miller put Mitchell up 19-15 with a kill but Pierre managed to rattle off the next eight straight points to go up 23-20 and then withstood a pair of Chelsea Brewster Kernel kills for the 25-23 set win.
The second set back and forth and tied at 15 before Elena Svingen broke Pierre free with four kills to put Pierre ahead 22-17. Mitchell kept pulling within one point but couldn't even the set in the late stages and Maddie Reinke's late kill put the Govs up 2-0.
Mitchell rallied in the third set, scoring six of the first seven points and Carly Haring had three kills to help Mitchell lead by as much nine. Pierre pulled within five points late but the Kernels picked up late kills from Brewster and Miller for the 25-18 set victory.
In the fourth set, Pierre held an early lead before Megan Sebert had a pair of aces and Haley Burdick and Jenna Weich teamed up a for a block to put Mitchell ahead 12-9. The lead grew to five points at 17-12 but five straight points for Pierre evened the match at 19. A pair of Miller kills put the Kernels ahead 24-22 but three set point chances slipped away before Pierre's Peyton Pietz evened the game at 25 all with a kill, a Mitchell attack went long and Reinke landed another kill to end the match.
"The game was pretty much serve and serve-receive and a week ago, their serve-receive broke down and tonight, ours broke down a bit," Thill said. "We started to get tentative in the second set and when we went back to our type of power volleyball and the hitting, that let us get back into the match."
Mitchell (17-7), the top seed in its district for the first time since 1995, was led by Miller's 13 kills and four aces and 18 digs. The Kernels' picked up 11 kills from Chelsea Brewster and 21 digs from Lauren Larson. Mandy Schmidt had 25 set assists and Miller and Haring each had three blocks.
Pierre (12-12) was led by its pair of big hitters, as Elena Svingen had 19 kills and 17 digs and Peyton Pietz had 16 kills and nine digs. Erika Stout had 39 set assists, Hallie Jerome had 15 digs and Maddie Reinke had three aces and four blocks.
Swiden said he thought the match was emblematic of District 3AA as a whole, repeating a phrase Thill has said all year: anybody can beat anyone else on a given night.
"Mitchell played their hearts out and that was a great match here," he said. "It shows how good this district is."
Mitchell now faces elimination on Saturday, as they will host Aberdeen Central in a 7 p.m. match at the MHS gym. Like the Govs, Mitchell swept the Golden Eagles during the regular season and Aberdeen fell to Huron in three sets (25-19, 33-31, 25-18) Tuesday.
"We're not done," Thill said. "That's the thing here. We know we have to play Aberdeen on Saturday night and we know exactly what's at stake. We're going to have to come and play the way we were playing when we were playing well."