HURON — Riding a solid effort from a trio of seniors, the Huron Tigers earned a signature win Tuesday night, blanking the Watertown Arrows 3-0 in volleyball action at Huron Arena. Set scores for the Tigers were 25-21, 25-23 and 25-20
“A lot of things went right for us tonight,” said Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen. “We were very hard-nosed on defense - not a lot of balls made it to the floor and I think we had one of our best blocking nights at the net that we have all season.”
Seniors Brooke Schiltz, Libby Rounds, and Tenley Buddenhagen led an effort that saw contributions from throughout the lineup against the fourth-ranked Arrows, the defending Class “AA” champions, who fell to 11-3, while third-ranked Huron improved to 12-3 with the win.
The Arrows jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead before Huron shook out the cobwebs and began its comeback, led by Schiltz.
A kill and back-to-back aces by the Tiger senior tied the score and Mikena Moore gave Huron its first lead of the set.
The teams traded kills, then Moore stroked a kill, recorded an ace, and Tenley Buddenhagen, in her first game back from an ankle injury, collected a kill for a Huron lead.
Watertown ran off four straight points, to take a 15-13 lead, but a kill from Brynn Gose, and two each from Emily Dale and Schiltz, along with back-to-back Tenley Buddenhagen aces put the Tigers up by five, at 20-15, and the Arrows never got closer than two points the rest of the way. Schiltz pounded home her sixth kill to close out the win for Huron.
In the second set, it was Huron who fired out of the gate, for a 7-2 lead, on kills from three different players, including two from Rounds.
A Bryn Huber ace prompted a Watertown timeout and the Arrows rallied briefly, as a Huron error made it 10-5.
But Rounds collected two more kills, Buddenhagen added two more and Moore laced an ace to key a 6-1 Huron run. The Tiger lead ballooned to 11 points, at 18-7, before the defending champions began climbing back into the game. Kills from seniors Jadyn Hoftiezer and Maggie Heesch got the Arrows rolling and, combined with a couple of Huron errors, allows Watertown to cut into the Tiger lead. A Heesch kill got the Arrows to within a point, at 21-20, before Rounds righted the ship with a powerful swing and Schiltz collected another ace to make it 23-20.
A kill from Watertown’s Karli Hanton made it 23-22 after a service error on the Tigers, but Moore found the corner, and Rounds and Tenley Buddenhagen combined to snuff out a Heesch kill attempt and preserve the 25-23 win.
“We really never got panicked during that second set,” coach Buddenhagen said. “We told them in the huddle ‘There’s no pouting. It’s a game of mistakes.’ We felt if we could get them running - get them on the move - it would help negate some of their big swingers and that’s what happened.
Neither team could manage more than a three-point advantage through the first half of the third set until Emily Dale’s seventh kill of the match gave Huron a 15-14 lead. Mattie Huber followed it up with an ace and Huron had a lead it would never relinquish.
Down the stretch, the Arrows had too many Huron weapons to attempt to defend, as Schiltz and Rounds each had multiple kills, Tenley Buddenhagen had another kill, and then ended the match with an ace serve.
In the match, Heesch ended with 12 kills and Hofteizer added eight to key the Arrow effort.
Schiltz had 13 kills and two aces for Huron, while Rounds added 10 and 1 and Buddenhagen had eight kills and four aces. Dale had eight kills, as did Gose, while Moore had six.
“I gotta tell you, this group of seniors really wanted this one,” coach Buddenhagen said. “They haven’t been part of a win over Watertown since they were in eighth grade. I would really like to find a way for us to bottle our intensity in practice this week and in the match tonight.”
Huron is back in action on Friday, traveling to take on Sioux Falls Roosevelt, before returning to Huron Arena Tuesday night, for the annual Breast Cancer Awareness night game, against the Mitchell Kernels.