The Mitchell High School volleyball squad nearly pulled it off on Tuesday night.
Down 2-0, the Kernels rallied to force a fifth set but came up short in an upset effort against No. 4 Pierre at the MHS gym in an Eastern South Dakota Conference match.
Set scores were 25-14, 25-17, 18-25, 25-27 and 15-8 in favor of the Governors, who remained a perfect 5-0 and one of three undefeated teams remaining in Class AA.
There were fits of struggles and strong play for the Kernels, who showed bright spots in the third and fourth sets to even the match. Despite the loss, MHS coach Deb Thill said she could see clear growth in her team by the end of the match.
“I thought we did really well serving aggressively in those sets and that whole match,” she said. “I think we passed really well and serve-received really well in the match. If you’re watching, you’re not going to fault any effort because our kids were all over the place trying to keep that ball up.”
In the fourth set, Mitchell led by as many as seven points before Pierre rallied to tie the frame at 21. Kaspen Alm gave Mitchell a 24-22 lead with a kill, but the Governors fended off a pair of set points before a serve went long to put Mitchell up 26-25 and a successful Taylor Haring block sent the match to the decisive set. But after a brief break, Pierre scored six of the first seven points in the fifth set and never let Mitchell back into it to close out the road win.
“We cut down on our unforced errors in the third and fourth sets and that’s when we were able to get them out of system. When they’re in system, that’s when (Pierre is) really good,” Thill said. “They’ve got three hitters all the time in the front row that can put that ball down and that’s really hard to defend.”
Mitchell had little answer for Pierre junior outside hitter Averie Kaiser, who had 28 kills and three aces in the victory. Remington Price added 14 kills and Reese Terwilliger had nine kills for the Govs, who are 3-0 in ESD play.
The Kernels had 12 aces in the loss, paced by three each from Paige Guthmiller and Lizzie Tyler. Tyler also had 11 digs, and two blocks. Alm had 20 kills, Sawyer Stoebner added six kills and three solo blocks, equaling Haring’s three-block night at the net. Sarah Sebert had 26 digs and Guthmiller had 15 digs.
Mitchell (4-3, 0-1 ESD) stays in conference play for the remainder of the week, at Harrisburg on Thursday and hosting Huron in a Kernel Bowl matinee at 3 p.m. Saturday.
In subvarsity matches, Mitchell held without a victory, with the sophomores falling in three sets and the junior varsity and freshmen teams being swept in straight sets.