BROOKINGS — The Huron Tigers got a solid defensive effort from the entire squad, and got multiple kills from multiple players as they punched their ticket into the championship semifinals of the Class “AA” State Volleyball Tournament Thursday night, with a 3-0 win over the Brandon Valley Lynx.
“We didn’t play flawlessly,” said a happy coach Shelly Buddenhagen after the win. “We didn’t play perfectly but we didn’t get flustered tonight and we maintained our poise to get the win.”
Huron, which moves to 17-4 with the win, was forced to come from behind to beat the same Lynx in five sets on Brandon’s home floor two weeks ago, but it was a high-octane version of the Tigers that showed up and defeated Brandon Valley 25-19, 25-19 and 25-21.
The three sets followed eerily similar scripts, as the Lynx scored first in each. Huron came back to take the lead early in the action in each set and never gave up their advantage, playing from in front the rest of the way.
In the first set, it was Libby Rounds, Brooke Schiltz and Mikena Moore to put Huron in front, as back-to-back-to-back kills from the trio put the Tigers up 4-3. The lead shrank to one point, at 9-8, as three consecutive errors by Huron allowed Brandon Valley to creep back close, but Schiltz pounded a kill cross court and Emily Dale collected back-to-back block kills and then soared to power home her first offensive kill, to give Huron its biggest lead of the set, at 14-9.
Dale and Schiltz put the cherry on top of the sundae with kills to close out the 25-19 win.
Brandon Valley stayed closer for longer in the second set as Huron’s first lead it would keep was at 6-5 on a Moore kill. The slam seemed to spark the Tigers, as Schiltz and setter Tenley Buddenhagen notched kills, then saw Brynn Gose go down the line for a counter before Tenley Buddenhagen stroked an ace serve that prompted a Lynx timeout with the score 11-7.
The team traded points and then a Tenley Buddenhagen-Rounds quick set resulted in a kill that pushed Huron to a 13-9 lead. The hitting and serving errors that Huron avoided in the first set came back a bit and allowed the Lynx to keep the score close. But for every Huron error, Brandon returned the favor. A kill by Dale and an ace from Moore pushed the lead to seven and after Gose and Schiltz put two more notches on their gunbelts, Brandon trailed 20-13 and called timeout.
But it couldn’t stop the Tiger momentum, as Schiltz and Rounds got kills and then Huron watched Brandon hit the set point long for the win.
Huron took its first third-set lead at 5-4 and looked to be cruising as a Schiltz kill made it 12-6. But three straight points by the Lynx prompted coach Buddenhagen to call a timeout to stem the change in momentum. Moore responded with three straight kills to right the ship and a Rounds kill several points later made it 20-14 for the Tigers.
Brandon kept fighting, however, as a couple of Tiger errors, combined with a nice block by Hannah Parliament and an ace from Taylor Stemen cut the margin to three points, at 21-18. But Schiltz notched her 10th kill in the match, Dale had her fifth kill to go with three blocks and Gose closed out the shutout with a ball off a Brandon Valley player for the 25-21 win.
“Our back row played really tough tonight,” coach Buddenhagen said. “They did a good job of handling the Brandon Valley hits and I thought we passed the ball really well. We have become more efficient passers. But how we block and how that back row handles the kill attempt and then passes keeps us in system , so I want to give a shout out to our ‘littles’ tonight, particularly Bryn Huber.”
The strength of the Tiger attack, as it has been all season, was the multi-player approach, as while Schiltz and Rounds both had 10 kills, Gose added nine and Moore chipped in seven. The solid passing game by the back row allowed Tenley Buddenhagen to free herself for 35 assists in the match and Huber had 18 digs.
The Lynx had a difficult time mustering offense in the match as Brooklyn Grage led the Brandon Valley attack with six kills and Stemen added four. Liz Kopp had 13 assists in the game and Abby Finch led the defense with nine digs.
Huron is back in action tonight, as they will take on the seventh-seeded Sioux Falls Roosevelt at approximately 7 p.m., with the winner moving into Saturday’s championship match.