The Mitchell High School volleyball team dropped a five-set marathon match against Brandon Valley on Tuesday. The Kernels lost the Eastern South Dakota Conference match 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25 and 15-8.

The Kernels (1-2) were coming off a 3-0 sweep against Pierre on Sept. 3, and despite dropping their second straight match, coach Deb Thill saw steady improvement.

“I challenged them to step up and play better,” Thill said. “You definitely saw that tonight and they played hard. … Defensively, we played well. I thought we made a lot of great scramble plays. I thought the offense was better. I just thought we played a much better game.”

There was very little room for error in the five-setter. Mitchell took the first set, which featured six ties and three lead changes. The Kernels missed a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the second set. They were leading 24-22, but the Lynx rattled off four straight points to even it at 1-1.

“Sometimes the game is a game of inches,” Thill said. “If we win set two -- we had our opportunities -- you go up 2-0 and who knows what would happen.”

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The Kernels trailed 19-13 in the third set, but rallied to take a 21-20 lead as the action picked up. In the waning moments of the set, the teams traded the lead two times and it featured four ties. Mitchell forced a fifth set after slipping past Brandon Valley in the fourth. The set was tied 11 times and the score was tied at points 18-through-22. Kaspen Alm put down a pair of kills and Elizabeth Tyler later recorded a kill to even the match at 2-2.

In the fifth set, Brandon Valley was clinging to a 9-7 advantage and pulled away for the victory.

Cameryn Logan paced Mitchell’s offensive attack with 19 kills.

“She’s getting more comfortable in her role and we had her hitting on the outside tonight,” Thill said about the Ethan transfer. “She really likes to hit from the outside and she will cut down on the number of errors she makes the more that she plays there.”

Tyler added 15 kills and 10 digs, while Alm put down seven kills. Katy Sebert handed out 37 assists and added 10 digs. Sarah Sebert finished with 41 digs.

Alm, Kazlyn Schulz and Kaitlyn Christensen teamed up to power the block totals for the Kernels.

“I thought our blockers did well and that’s what we are asking them to do,” Thill said. “Especially our two middles. They are a little bit undersized but I thought they got a lot of good blocks and had a lot of great touches.”

The Kernels host Huron at 3 p.m. on Saturday at MHS gym.