It was a day of comebacks at the Mitchell High School gymnasium on Thursday.
The No. 4 Kernels rallied from deficit after deficit to knock off a resilient Sioux Falls Lincoln squad 25-22, 24-26, 27-25 and 25-20 in a prep volleyball match.
The Kernels not only came back in two of the sets, but two-time all-stater Mackenzie Miller made her season debut after being sidelined with a knee injury.
“I am so excited having her back,” fellow senior Carly Haring said. “It gives us confidence as well as more energy.”
It seemed to work on Thursday. The Kernels (7-1) fell behind in the first set as the Patriots (4-7) bolted ahead 19-9. But that was when Miller made her season debut.
“I think I put her in when we were down 19-9 and her presence just probably ignited us a little bit there,” Mitchell coach Deb Thill said.
Miller knew going into match she was going to play. She wasn’t nervous, but rather: “I was more excited just to play. I didn’t really care how I did. I just wanted to play and just compete.”
Miller put down her first kill to make it 19-10 and that started a run.
“It felt really good, especially that first kill,” Miller added.
After trailing 19-9, the Kernels closed the first set on a 16-3 surge.
In the second set, Mitchell again found itself in a hole. The Patriots led 19-11, but the Kernels came all the way back for a 24-24 tie. However, Lincoln’s 6-foot freshman Baily Piourde put down two straight kills to tie the match at 1-1.
A back and forth third set went in Mitchell’s favor. The set featured eight ties and five lead changes, with the Kernels pulling away for the win.
Not only did Mitchell lead 2-1, but the momentum was back on its side.
“We definitely felt the momentum shift toward us and I think that’s what helped us play so well in the fourth set,” said Haring, who had 10 kills and two blocks.
Mitchell broke away from an 18-18 tied in the fourth set with a 7-2 spurt and won the match against Lincoln, which used its height to cause fits for the Kernels.
“We tried to get their blockers to move pin to pin,” Thill said. “We were trying to have (setter) Mandy (Schmidt) set pin to pin, but it also depended upon how well we were setting the ball, too. We were trying some things. We had some kids coming in. We were running out of subs. That’s good for us. Early in the year we need to go through those things.”
Schmidt dished out 33 assists and had 12 digs. Chelsea Brewster finished with 11 kills, 19 digs and three total blocks. Sage Jorgensen had eight kills. Bridget Thill added nine digs.
As for Miller, she had two kills and one block. But more importantly, she’s back.
“It gives me a lot of confidence just knowing that I can still do everything that I used to be able to do and maybe even better once I work at it,” Miller said.
Mitchell plays at Spearfish on Saturday.Subvarsity scores: JV: Sophomore: Freshman A: Freshman B: