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Third-set comeback spurs Tigers past Kernels

HURON--On Tuesday night, the Mitchell Kernels volleyball team learned how quickly a match can make a 180-degree turn. Holding a 20-10 lead in the third set, the Kernels seemed poised to finish off the set and take a 2-1 lead over their District 3...

Mitchell's Mandy Schmidt serves during the Kernels' volleyball match against Huron Tuesday at the Huron Arena. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Mitchell's Mandy Schmidt serves during the Kernels' volleyball match against Huron Tuesday at the Huron Arena. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

HURON-On Tuesday night, the Mitchell Kernels volleyball team learned how quickly a match can make a 180-degree turn.

Holding a 20-10 lead in the third set, the Kernels seemed poised to finish off the set and take a 2-1 lead over their District 3AA rivals Huron and even moreso when Mitchell led 24-17 in the set.

But the No. 4-ranked Tigers scored 10 of the next 11 points, including seven straight to come back and win the game 27-25 and ended up taking the fourth set as well for a 3-1 win in Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball action at the Huron Arena.

The set scores were 27-29, 25-15, 27-25 and 25-17.

The turning point, Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said, was a matter of putting together a well-timed hot stretch.

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"I think we got hot at the right time and made some plays," she said. "Mitchell is a very, very good volleyball team. ... we were able to slow down their hitters for a while there and when we got them out of their system, we had some success."

But Buddenhagen was effusive of her praise of the Kernels.

"Maybe it was just luck of the draw tonight," she said of the win.

Mitchell coach Deb Thill said an instance like the third set can happen in volleyball but the Kernels didn't serve-receive well enough to put away the Tigers there.

"It's a serve and serve-receive game," she said. "We were good in that third set and it let us down. We have to be able to step up there and pass the ball and stay in system."

The first set appropriately set the tone of the evening, close almost all the way through. The Tigers had a set-point chance slip away thanks to a pair of kills from Mackenzie Miller to put Mitchell up 25-24, only for Karissa Schroeder to respond with a kill of her own. Both teams each had another chance before Chelsea Brewster's tip kill made it 27-27 for Mitchell. A Huron tip into the net and a Brewster kill ended the opening frame in the Kernels' favor 29-27.

In the second set, Huron seemed to figure out the Kernel hitters a bit better, getting more blocks in front of the Kernel hitters, leading to a 10-point Tiger set win.

The third game started with Mitchell up 4-0 and out a 15-5 advantage in the set, punctuated by a Jenna Weich kill. A Megan Sebert ace and a Miller kill helped Mitchell to a 20-10 lead before the Tigers slowly let the air out of the Kernels' lead. Down 24-17, Havyn Heinz was on serve for the Tigers and helped the Tigers earn seven straight points to even the match at 24-24. Mitchell had their eighth and final set point chance of the game up 25-24 after a Weich kill but it was answered by Shannon Katz. Then Jayda Schillingstad stepped up the service line and downed a pair of aces to complete the comeback.

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The fourth set was tight, as well, until Huron pulled away from a 13-13 tie and rode the arm of Emily Arteman down the stretch, as she delivered the last two Tiger kills.

Miller paced the Kernels (4-3, 3-3 ESD) with 16 kills and 21 digs in a strong double-double effort. Carly Haring and Jenna Weich each had five blocks in the loss and Mandy Schmidt had 32 assists for the Kernels.

The Tigers were led by Schneider's 15 kills and Arteman added eight of her own to go with five blocks. Schillingstad had 37 assists and four aces. Heinz had 31 digs for a game-high mark.

Mitchell will get some much needed time off, with no game action until Tuesday when they host Brookings at the MHS gym. Huron (5-2, 5-1 ESD) is at Aberdeen Central on Thursday.

Thill said the loss Tuesday is a letdown but not something Mitchell can't overcome.

"We know that our district is going to be like this. We know we could have just as easily won this match but we didn't," Thill said. "We have to be able to make sure we step on the floor and pass the ball like we can and play like we know we can."

Subvarsity:

JV: Mitchell won 25-19, 25-18. Tess Limberg had three kills and four digs. Payton Morgan added three blocks and eight digs.

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Sophomores: Mitchell won 25-21 and 28-26. Lesley Van Drongelen had 10 digs and Limberg added seven kills and six digs.

Freshmen: Huron won 11-25, 25-17 and 15-11.

Related Topics: KERNELS
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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