HARRISBURG — A sour finish to the opening set Thursday for the Mitchell High School volleyball team spilled over into the rest of the match in a three-set loss at Harrisburg.
Set scores in the Eastern South Dakota Conference match were 26-24, 25-12 and 25-21.
Mitchell led by as many as four points in the opening set and held a 24-21 advantage late, only to see the Tigers come back and score the next five points. Harrisburg’s Abby Meister had the kill to tie the set at 24-all, with Francie Mertz scoring the next two kills from the middle-hitter position to claim Set 1.
“We had our chances but we didn’t close out the set and we really didn’t play to our abilities from that point forward,” MHS coach Deb Thill said. “That’s disappointing but it’s up to us to learn from that and use it to our advantage to get better.”
Harrisburg then scored nine of the first 11 points to open the second set and cruise to the 25-12 win in the set to go up 2-0 in the match. In Set 3, Mitchell trailed most of the set by a few points and got to within 23-20 at the end of the frame but could not extend the match.
For Mitchell (4-4 overall, 0-2 ESD), Kaspen Alm had 14 kills to pace the effort. Lizzie Tyler had 14 assists, six kills and seven digs, and Sawyer Stoebner had four blocks for the Kernels. Sarah Sebert led the defense with 15 digs.
The contest marks Mitchell’s fourth straight loss after a 4-0 start, but the caliber of opponents has been better as well. Thill pointed out Mitchell had three losses against ranked opponents in Sioux Falls Lincoln, Washington and Pierre, and Harrisburg was among the ranked teams in the preseason in Class AA.
“We are good enough to win these matches. We know we can play with and beat teams of this caliber when we play to our potential,” Thill said. “That’s the challenge, to continue to improve and play hard and work through when things get difficult.”
Harrisburg (6-3, 2-1 ESD) was led by Abby Meister’s 17 kills and 12 digs. Freshman setter Maggie Meister had 20 assists and Alyssa Dierks added 17 assists and two of Harrisburg’s six aces in the win. Zoe Rallis had 15 digs for the Tigers, who now visit Class A No. 2 Dakota Valley next on Sept. 14. (The Tigers were also victorious in the junior-varsity match.)
The Kernels turn the page to Saturday’s afternoon matchup with Huron, a 3 p.m. contest at the MHS gym.
“We know Huron is going to be tough and they’re going to be ready,” Thill said. “We need to be ready to play at their level.”