ABERDEEN – It wasn’t the draining five-set marathon that their earlier match was on Sept. 1, but the fourth-ranked Huron Tigers’ three-game sweep over the Aberdeen Central Golden Eagles on Tuesday in Aberdeen wasn’t as easy as it looked on paper either.
Set scores for the Tigers were 25-22, 25-20, and 25-22.
Coach Joshua Lien noted the major difference between the first match and the second match between the teams was the Tigers’ ability to finish sets on Tuesday.
“Tonight we felt really proud about our effort to close out matches,” Lien explained. “To do it on the road was even sweeter.”
The first set opened with a preview of a theme of the evening as Brynn Gose picked up the first two Huron points with two very different kills. Gose, known for her big swing from her right arm, would vary her shots throughout the night, keeping the Aberdeen defense constantly guessing and out of position.
The Golden Eagles would quickly get the two early points back, and a back-and-forth first set was on, with the teams staying within a few points of one another throughout the set.
However, once the teams tied at 12-12, the directional hitting of all the Tigers’ attackers really came out as the Tigers went on a 7-2 run with four different hitters recording kills.
Aberdeen was not done as eighth-grader Lauryn Burckhard picked up her first kills midway through the first set and immediately established herself as a force on the outside.
Lien called a Huron timeout after the home squad knotted the score at 20, and the two teams exchanged points to a 22-22 tie, but Gose would close out the match with a block/kill and then a two-hand tip that caught the defender completely unable to adjust, leading to a block out of bounds and the 25-22 victory in the first set.
Aberdeen jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but Huron roared right back as Gose reached her 10th kill of the match on the Tigers’ third point of the second set.
Huron would use directional hitting from Isabelle Ellwein and Heavan Gainey to go on a 6-2 run in the middle of the set, and Huron never trailed the rest of the way.
Aberdeen did close the gap to 21-20 as Huron’s back line passing went awry for a spell, but after a Huron timeout, Elin Schoenhard took something off on a wraparound hit off the set from Hamtyn Heinz, and it fell just behind the front line and in front of diving Aberdeen back line players. The Golden Eagles would commit two hitting errors before Gose attempted to save the ball in the midst of a volley and placed it between two Aberdeen defenders who stared at one another as the ball fell to the court, giving Huron the 25-20 victory.
The third set opened both teams playing back and forth. After Aberdeen went on a three-point run to take a 16-14 lead, Lien called timeout. Schoenhard found the open spot in the defense for a kill and Burckhard sent one long to bring Huron back even at 16-16, but the Tigers had a pair of hitting errors of their own to make it 18-16 in favor of the Golden Eagles.
An Aberdeen service error began a 5-0 run that put the Tigers up 21-18. While the Golden Eagles would get within 23-22, Karsyn Kopfmann had a block/kill and then followed that up with a kill that came off the block and fell in front of any other Aberdeen defenders to give Huron the 25-22 set win and the match sweep.
Gose put down 16 kills for Huron. Gainey added nine kills while Ellwein and Kopfmann each had six.
Lien enjoyed seeing the diversity of hitting, both in style of hits from his players and in who was being set up for the attack on the night.
“I thought we did a really nice job of mixing it up,” Lien complimented. “Hamtyn worked her tail off to be unpredictable and the girls used it well.”
The Golden Eagles fell to 5-5 despite 11 kills for Burckhard. Leah Gough had seven kills.
Neutralizing the other big hitters in the Aberdeen attack was something Coach Lien was happy to see defensively.
“We put the ball back on their side,” he said. “I thought our blocking did really well on the outsides.”
Aberdeen swept the lower levels with a 2-1 victory in the JV match and a 2-0 victory in the sophomore tilt.
The Tigers bring a 9-1 record home to host Brookings on Thursday.