Huron inks win against Lynx to cap regular season
HURON — On senior night, a pair of senior Tigers paced Huron to a winning record and a home SoDak 16 game next Tuesday with a 3-1 victory Thursday over the Brandon Valley Lynx at Huron Arena.
Set scores for the Tigers, who finish the regular season 14-13, were 25-17, 20-25, 25-19, and 25-18.
The early going of the first set showed just how evenly matched the two teams would be throughout the night, with six ties as the teams worked to a 7-all tie.
The Tigers then went on a 8-2 run that was primarily fueled by Brandon Valley errors as the Lynx committed a service error and five hitting errors during the run before calling a timeout.
Huron would serve long out of the timeout, but then the Tigers pushed the lead out to 17-10 on an excellent block by Hamtyn Heinz and Makenzie Siemonsma. The teams would trade points back and forth from that point to the end of the set, primarily with the Tigers working rallies until the Lynx made an error or Brandon Valley sophomore middle hitter Abby Gruber would find a hole in the Tigers defense as she nailed six kills in the first set alone.
The Lynx called timeout as the Tigers grabbed a 23-15 lead and their own kills or hitting errors decided the next three points before DaJai Claggett slammed down just her second kill of the set to give the Tigers the 25-17 victory.
After winning the hitting and serving error battle in the first set 15-5, Huron was on the short set in the second set, and it was a big reason the Tigers never led the entire set. While the Lynx kept control of the lead, Huron never trailed by more than three until the very end. Tigers coach TyAnn Ullmer called a timeout after a Lynx service ace made it 21-19, and Brandon Valley capitalized on Huron errors from that point to close out the set 25-20.
Huron’s Hamtyn Heinz was honored for surpassing the 2,000-assist milestone between sets during a match against Brandon Valley on Thursday at Huron Arena.
After never holding a lead in the entire second set, the Tigers started off battling to keep up with the Lynx early on in the third set. However, Tiger sophomore Aly Davis began finding the weaknesses in the Lynx defense, recording a pair of kills and then stepping back to nail two aces in a row to give the Tigers their first lead since the end of the first set, 9-8.
Huron would take control and hold the lead behind excellent net play by Samantha Mangmoradeth, who claimed five kills in the set and had multiple strong defensive plays while blocking. A pair of Davis kills and a kill from Siemonsma gave the Tigers their biggest lead at 20-14.
The Lynx would climb back within three at 20-17, but Claggett and Heinz both left the Lynx defense flat-footed with well-placed kill shots and a Mangmoradeth block/kill ended the set in favor of the home team, 25-19.
Huron found themselves quickly down in the fourth set 3-0 before the Tigers began to flex their defensive strength, leading to multiple rallies that would end with a hitting error by the young attackers for Brandon Valley.
Freshmen Jersie Melcher and Kennedi Boomsma each got a kill to knot the score at 5-5, but Huron then seemed to take control of the match, ceding a strong hit from the young Lynx attack now and then, but never forfeiting the lead again.
A service error brought Brandon Valley within 17-15, but that’s when Claggett took over in her final regular season home match. She recorded the next three points via kill, then after the teams exchanged points, she stepped back and recorded an ace, drawing a Brandon Valley timeout with the score 23-18, looking for one last gasp of a rally.
It was not to be, though, as Davis and Mangmoradeth each nailed kills to give the Tigers the 25-18 set victory and the match.
Huron was keyed by a balanced attack, led by Claggett with 14 kills and a pair of service aces. Hamtyn Heinz added 10 kills and an ace while using her excellent setting to dumbfound the Lynx defense time and again.
Mangmoradeth and Davis each added 10 kills, while Davis also had three aces at the service line. Siemonsma nailed seven kills as well.
The Lynx fall to 14-13 despite a strong hitting attack led by Gruber’s 19 kills. Melcher had 13 kills and Boomsma added 10 kills for Brandon Valley. Senior Alli Gawarecki scored three aces from the service line for the Lynx.
While the second set wasn’t what Coach Ullmer wanted to see, she was proud of the team’s resilience on the night.
“The girls overcame the set two slump and got back to it,” she said, noting the directional hitting led by Davis and Heinz as a key. “You don’t need to hit it hard if you can hit it to the spot where they aren’t.”
Huron now waits for games to be played over the weekend to determine seeding, but the Tigers will be either the seventh or eighth seed, meaning a home match in the SoDak 16 for the Tigers, and that’s all Coach Ullmer is focused on.
“They know they’re home, and that’s all that matters,” she smiled. “We’ll worry about the opponent later.”