Brandon Valley ends season for Tigers in SoDak 16

PHOTOS BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN Huron’s Aly Davis digs the ball during a Class AA SoDak 16 match against Brandon Valley on Thursday at Huron Arena.

HURON - After defeating the Brandon Valley Lynx in the final match of the regular season last Thursday, the Huron Tigers squared off again with the Lynx in a SoDak 16 game Thursday at Huron Arena, but things went much differently, as the Lynx swept the Huron Tigers out of the state tournament, ending a 14-year streak of state tourney appearances for the Tigers.

The Tigers’ streak was the longest in the state for consecutive appearances.

Brandon Valley moved to 15-13 by set scores of 25-17, 25-16, and 25-15.

After the Huron defense and attack forced Brandon Valley into numerous errors last week, the Tigers struggled to get into system all evening.

Huron coach TyAnn Ulmer recognized her team’s position throughout the night.

“They executed what they needed to execute. They did what they wanted to do on the court, and it showed,” Ulmer noted. “We were timid right away. They had the momentum, and we were on our backside all night.”

The Lynx jumped out to a 5-0 lead to open the first set behind five kills from three players. Hamtyn Heinz sent a ball back after an overpass to get the Tigers on the board, but with the Lynx up 8-2, Huron coach TyAnn Ulmer took her first timeout of the evening. The Lynx would not utilize a timeout the entire evening.

After Abby Gruber got her third kill of the set out of the timeout, the Tigers got a short 3-0 run to get within 10-5, but Kennedi Boomsma had a pair of block/kills as part of a 5-0 run for the Lynx to get the score back out to double digits.

Huron’s Dajai Claggett plays a volley during a SoDak 16 match against Brandon Valley on Thursday at Huron Arena.

Brandon Valley pulled out to a 19-6 lead before Huron made its last gasp ralley, getting it all the way to 20-12, but that’s when sophomore Jayaunna Stroh took over the match, nailing three kills, offsetting DaJai Claggett and Samantha Magmoradeth each getting two kills at the end for the Tigers. The Lynx finished the first set with a 25-17 victory.

Huron would utilize a Lynx hitting error to take a 1-0 lead in the second set. It would be the Tigers’ only lead of the match.

The Lynx quickly accelerated out to a 9-3 lead before Ulmer called her first timeout of the second set. Aly Davis came out of the timeout with a kill, but the Tigers struggled to get into system and the Lynx continued to find holes in the Tiger defense.

Stroh got her sixth kill of the set and her 12th of the night to end the second set with a 25-16 Lynx victory.

Huron’s Hamtyn Heinz sets the ball during a Class AA SoDak 16 match against Brandon Valley on Thursday at Huron Arena.

A Stroh kill and a pair of Huron hitting errors opened the third set 3-0 in favor of the Lynx.

After the Lynx got to 6-1, Brandon Valley committed hitting errors or nailed kills until Aly Davis had a block/kill. A Mangmoradeth kill got the Tigers within three at 12-9.

That’s when Gruber woke back up. She dominated the net last week for 19 kills, but did not score from the mid-point of the first set to the mid-point of the third set. She would end up dominating the net, finishing with six kills in the third set as the Lynx pulled away on an 8-1 run.

The Tigers mustered up all their fight at the very end, but it was too far gone by that point, and the effort simply made the final score look a little more palatable.

Huron’s Madison Jurgens digs the ball as teammate Aly Davis looks on during Thursday’s match.

The Lynx out-killed the Tigers 56-25 with four players in double figures. Stroh led the way with 16 kills and an ace. Melcher and Boomsma each had 12 kills, with Boomsma adding five blocks. Gruber also had 10 kills.

The Tigers finish the year 14-14. Claggett, Davis, and and Mangmoradeth each finished with six kills. Makenzie Siemonsma had four kills, and Hamtyn Heinz had three kills and a pair of aces.

Davis and Madison Hershman each had an ace.

The end was not what the Tigers wanted, but Ulmer considers the 2023 season a success overall.

“They were .500 and that was our goal,” she said. “They worked hard every day, but tonight didn’t fall our way.”

Ulmer also hopes losing the streak inspires her young players to return with even more fire next season.

“You get the sting and remember what it’s like not to make it,” Ulmer observed. “Hopefully, that drives them next year to get back.”