HURON — The Huron volleyball team capped its regular season with a 3-1 victory against the Pierre Lady Govs on Saturday at Huron Arena.
Despite emerging with the victory, the Tigers didn’t exactly have the start they were looking for as Pierre inked a 25-20 win in the opening set.
“They just came out clobbering the ball and we just had to make a few adjustments defensively,” Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said of the start for the Lady Govs. “We knew that in the first set, we were just going to gather data.
“We did come out sluggish,” she said. “We knew that we needed more energy on our home floor and you could just feel it building and building during that second set.”
After a couple of early leads by the Tigers in the first set, Pierre used an 11-2 run to stake its biggest lead at 15-8. Huron would rally back to win a point at 19-18, but the Lady Govs held on to take the lead in the match with the win.
Neither team was able to establish solid control throughout much of the second set, but the effort on Huron’s side of the net looked much more organized.
With the score tied at 19-19, Havyn Heinz stepped to the service line for the Tigers and reeled off six straight points to even the match with a 25-19 victory in the second set.
Heinz had an ace and Hollee Niehus had a pair of kills during Huron’s final push for the set win.
“I’m just really happy with the way we were resilient and didn’t panic. When we were down, we just made the necessary corrections and adjustments,” Buddenhagen said. “After we got going, our serving kind of took over there and we knew eventually our serving was going to wear them down a little bit. We settled down and improved our passes. We didn’t pass the ball very well the first set.”
Niehus continued to rack up the kills in the third set for the Tigers, but some key plays by the team’s supporting cast helped Huron score eight of the final 10 points in the match for a 25-18 victory.
Freshman Emily Dale inked a pair of kills and Brooke Schiltz had a block kill in the final run for the Tigers.
“Emily is just a freshman who just turned 14. She’s a little girl, but at the net she had some key plays,” Buddenhagen said. “When she had a chance to swing, she had an aggressive swing and just went after it and caused them to get out of system. We like her height at the net, we like the way she competes.”
Buddenhagen also appreciated the effort from Schiltz, who is a sophomore.
“We’ve been working really hard on her hitting. I thought she just went out with a lot of confidence,” she said of Schiltz. “She was able to find the holes in the blocks and was able to find high hands. She caused a lot of havoc with her tips.”
Huron used a kill by Schiltz, which was followed by an ace serve from Kylie Overbay to take its biggest lead of the fourth set at 20-14. The Lady Govs managed to battle back and tie the game at 21-21, but the Tigers used a kill from senior Melissa Berg to end the match with a 25-23 victory.
The victory moved Huron to 16-7 on the season and ensured that a SoDak 16 match would be played on its home floor.
“I’m just really happy for this group of seniors — Niehus, Overbay, Isabell Ford, Berg and Madison Pfitzer — because when we started out on paper we weren’t suppose to be where we are at or even close. I think they have worked really hard,” Buddenhagen said. “I’m really glad we were able to create some energy to have a little bit better taste in our mouths as we walk out of this arena, because we get to host now.”
Niehus finished with a game-high 23 kills for the Tigers, while Schiltz had five kills and Tenley Buddenhagen and Libby Rounds each had three kills.
“If we would have gone one more set, she would’ve broken the school record. There’s no doubt about it,” Buddenhagen said of the solid night from Niehus.
Overbay finished the match with three aces, while Niehus and Havyn Heinz each had a pair of aces.
Heinz was the defensive leader for Huron with 37 digs, while Buddenhagen and Overbay had 15 and 14 digs, respectively. Also reaching double figures was Niehus with 11 digs and Ford with 10 digs.
Buddenhagen amassed 31 assists for the Tigers, while Dale and Niehus had four and three block assists, respectively.
Raegan Wiebe and Kayli Severyn each had 11 kills to lead Pierre, which dropped to 8-12. Addy Smith added seven kills.
Both teams will have one shot to reach the Class AA State Tournament field through the SoDak 16 matches on Thursday.
Huron, which is the fifth seed, will host No. 12-seeded Brandon Valley at 6:30 p.m. at Huron Arena.
Pierre, which is seeded 11th, will travel to face No. 6 Mitchell on Thursday.
The winners from both those matches, along with the other six winners of the SoDak 16 matches on Thursday will advance to the state tournament.
The Class AA State Tourney is scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Sioux Falls
Pierre 25 19 18 23
Huron 20 25 25 25