It was a disappointing night for Mitchell High School volleyball Tuesday as the Kernels were swept by the upstarts visiting from Sioux Falls Jefferson for Mitchell's fourth-straight loss. Set scores were 25-18, 25-21 and 25-19.
While the Cavaliers have played a tough schedule to this point, they entered Tuesday’s match at No. 15 in Class AA seed points out of the 19 teams in the division. But Jefferson — which had lost nine of its previous 11 matches before visiting Tuesday — attacked the Kernels at every turn, including at the net, and knocked out Mitchell when presented the chance.
“(Jefferson) deserved to win,” Mitchell coach Deb Thill said. “They were always in attack mode and we gave them way too many free balls over the net. We had some errors that we could have controlled and our serve-receive wasn’t very good, because they ended up with too many aces.”
The Kernels (9-8) had six service errors in the match and had three aces to Jefferson’s 11. Thill said she warned her team about the capabilities of the Cavaliers in the first volleyball match between the two schools, while she believes the Kernels took Jefferson seriously, they were outplayed.
“They are better than their record,” Thill said. “We knew they were a good team and didn’t respond the way we needed to.”
Of the teams Jefferson has lost to this season, they’ve had a combined winning percentage of .713. That includes losses to No. 1 Washington, No. 2 O’Gorman, No. 3 Harrisburg, No. 4 Brandon Valley and the No. 1 team in Class A in North Dakota Bismarck Century. Tuesday’s win was the second of the year for the Cavaliers against teams with a record of .500 or better.
Kaspen Alm drove the offense for the Kernels with 18 kills. The rest of the team combined for only 10 kills, with five from Lizzie Tyler, who added 20 assists and eight digs. Sarah Sebert finished with a match-high 24 kills, and Taylor Haring had four total blocks in the match. Paige Guthmiller and Alysaa Magee added eight digs apiece.
Jefferson (6-12) was paced by Maddie Paulsen, as the 6-foot junior middle hitter finished with 15 kills on 21 attempts, hitting .667 for the match. Teammate Ella Kvernmo had nine kills, plus three aces and 12 digs in the match. Cora Hokenstad had a team-high 22 digs and Presly Pastian had 38 set assists for Jefferson, which hosts Huron on Thursday, Oct. 14.
It is the Kernels’ second home loss to a sub-.500 team in eight days, after falling in five sets to Yankton at MHS on Oct. 5. Thill said the team has to play with the mentality of one that is confident in its abilities and prepared for the challenges of a team that is coming to knock them off.
“It’s a different mentality than a team that only wins five or six matches (in a season),” Thill said. “We need to step out and defend how good our team is. ... We’re a good team and we’ve got six matches left to continue getting better and prepare for that postseason, which is what everyone is trying to do.”
Mitchell is back in action on Tuesday, Oct. 19, traveling to Aberdeen Central in an Eastern South Dakota Conference match.
JV: Jefferson won 25-19, 25-16.
Sophomores: Jefferson won 25-13, 17-25, 18-16.
Freshmen A: Jefferson won 25-18, 25-20.
Freshmen B: Jefferson won 30-32, 25-12, 15-10.