HURON — The Huron Tiger volleyball team overcame some misfires in the opening set, to come back and post a 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-12) win over the Pierre Governors in Eastern South Dakota Conference action at Huron Arena. It was the sixth straight win for the Tigers, who improve to 11-4 on the season while Pierre dips to 6-8.
“We started out really tight tonight,” said Tiger mentor Shelly Buddenhagen. “Our passing was off and the girls had a bit of a struggle with the change from being an underdog to being the favorites in a match. It really took us awhile to get going tonight.”
The Tigers, who moved to the No. 3 spot in the Class “AA” volleyball poll this week, didn’t look like a team on a winning streak in the top echelons of the state in the early going.
Pierre held and early lead and while Huron never let the Governors run away and hide - the biggest lead of the set was three points for the visitors - problems with passing and timing issues on kill attempts kept Huron from taking control.
With the score tied at 17-all, Pierre went on a 6-1 roll to take control and put the first set in the win column, 25-22.
The second set followed the same script; neither team could grab and hold any momentum in the early going. Pierre tied the score at 11-11 with a block-kill from Lily Sanchez, but Huron responded with a kill by Emily dale and a Havyn Hein ace, sandwiched around a shared block kills by Alaina Dale and Libby Rounds. The quick cluster prompted a Pierre timeout, which ignited a small rally by the Governors in the first game.
It didn’t happen in set two.
Out of the timeout Rounds pounded home another kills, Brooke Schiltz got a kill and stepped to the service line and recorded an ace and the Tigers were on a roll, with a 16-11 lead. Pierre got a couple points back, but Alaina Dale found an open spot for a kills, and Tenley Buddenhagen got an ace.
Down the stretch, Huron’s defense made the difference, as the Tigers kept the ball off the floor on several long rallies and while Pierre made a late run, Huron held on for the evener, 25-21.
While the first two sets were marked by hitting errors and service errors, Huron came out for the third set with a different mind set. Mikena Moore had a pair of kills, Alaina Dale had back-to-back kills - the second ended a very long rally between the two teams - and sister Emily Dale capped the short rally with a cross court winner.
“Pierre is a very good team,” coach Buddenhagen said. “They got to a lot of balls tonight and made some good plays and there were some long rallies.”
The difference in the long rallies in the final two sets, however, was that while the Governors were chasing down errant passes and free-balling the ball back to Huron, the Tigers were able to set up and get kill attempts on a regular basis.
And 8-0 Huron run through the middle portion of the set made the score 19-8 and was capped by kills from Moore and Rounds, both of whom contributed kills to the run. Again, Pierre made a comeback, helped by a couple of Huron hitting errors, but a massive kill from Moore that nearly broke the sound barrier, and a kill each from the Dale sisters capped a 25-13 Tiger win in the third set.
The final set started slowly again, with Huron holding a 10-9 lead midway through the set. Moore pounded home back-to-back kills and Tenley Buddenhagen scored a block kill for a 13-9 lead and the fire was again lit.
A 7-2 run by Huron, helped by a pair of Schiltz kills and capped by kills on consecutive possessions from Emily Dale pushed the lead to 20-11. Down the stretch, Rounds, Schiltz and Alaina Dale - 10, 11 and eight kills on the night, respectively - closed the door on the Governors.
Moore led the way for Huron with 14 kills on the night. Schiltz’s 11 and Rounds’ 10 kills included a total of four block-kills and Emily Dale added nine kills on the evening.
“We can attack from so many different places and angles and I think that makes us tough to defend sometimes,” coach Buddenhagen noted. “Also, I really think that once we got in a groove, our blocking was pretty good tonight.”
Tenley Buddenhagen spread the wealth, chalking up 37 set assists on the night while adding a pair of aces and a pair of blocks to the attack. Heinz had an ace and led the defense with 19 digs. Buddenhagen added 13 defensive digs in the match.
“I’m happy with the win as Pierre is a good team,” coach Buddenhagen said. “We struggled in the second set but won and then we started playing more the way we want to play.”
Huron is off the rest of the week, returning to the competition court on Oct. 15, when the Tigers host the Harrisburg Tigers at Huron Arena. It is the annual Breast Cancer Awareness game, and the volleyball team has Pink T-shirts available for purchase to wear at the game. All proceeds from the t-shirt sales, as well as from the first ever silent auction, will go to the Huron Regional Medical Center’s breast cancer treatment program.
Pierre 25 21 13 12
Huron 22 25 25 25