SIOUX FALLS – Losing a big lead in the first set proved costly as the Huron Tigers fell to the Sioux Falls Lincoln Patriots in five sets in the second round of the Class AA Tournament Friday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
Set scores for the Patriots were 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 19-25, and 15-11.
The Tigers jumped out strong in the first set, following strong hitting from Heavan Gainey and Karsyn Kopfmann. An ace serve from Olivia Rink put Huron up 12-5 and drew a timeout from Lincoln coach Katie Tirrel.
The Tigers got the first two points out of the timeout on a Patriot hitting error and a quick set kill by Hamtyn Heinz, then the two teams played even until the Tigers held a 17-8 lead.
At that point. Gainey sent a kill attempt wide to begin a quartet of four hitting errors from the Tigers, bringing the score to 17-12. Tigers coach Joshua Lien called timeout to attempt to settle his squad.
Brynn Gose picked up a kill out of the timeout, but the Patriots went on a 5-1 run after that, fueled by four Huron errors, drawing Lien’s second timeout of the set at 19-17.
Nyareal Kutey was able to get a block/kill to bring the lead back to one, and the teams traded points back and forth until a pair of kills from Hadlie Groen made it 22-21 in favor of Lincoln, the Patriots’ first lead since it was 2-1 in the set.
The Tigers quickly got a kill from Gainey and a hitting error by Linnea Nesheim of Lincoln to take back the lead and draw Lincoln’s second timeout of the set with a 23-22 advantage. The Patriots came out of the break and finished the job, however, using a Nesheim ace and a Groen kill to polish off a 25-23 first-set victory.
Whatever Coach Lien may have said in the huddle between the first two sets should probably be bottled and sold to volleyball coaches across the state.
While the Tigers fell behind early in the second set 5-1, it was on the strength of strong hitting by the Patriots. The Huron hitting attack found its spots and was aggressive on the serve, going on a 10-0 run early in the set that was only ended when a Gainey block nicked the antenna.
The Tigers regrouped and went on another run that extended the lead out to eight on an ace by Emma Ross to make it 20-12, drawing Lincoln’s second timeout of the set.
Ross sandwiched a pair of Kopfmann kills between another pair of aces before Kutey was able to send a big swing down the middle of the Tiger defense to break the run. Heinz would get a kill on an overpass to give Huron the second set victory in dominant fashion, 25-14 to tie the set 1-1.
The third set was a classic grind-it-out match between the two clubs, as the two teams were tied 13 times over the course of the set, and neither team had a lead of more than three the entire set. Lincoln’s Nesheim took over on the attack when Kutey rotated out and put down six kills in the third set alone. After a service ace from Heinz tied the set at 21-all, Lincoln took a timeout.
A Tiger hitting attempt went wide, Kutey got a block, Nesheim hit the line with a kill, and Sophia Siegel recorded an ace to bring home the third set 25-22 and give Lincoln the 2-1 match advantage.
Huron’s serving was aggressive throughout the fourth set, which both dominated the set and led to some definite struggles.
The Tigers jumped out to a 9-1 lead on the strength of four early Heinz aces and four kills from Gose early on in the fourth set, drawing a timeout from Lincoln.
The Patriots leaned on Nesheim to help them climb back to 9-5, but the Tigers kept the Patriots at a four- or five-point distance throughout most of the middle part of the set. After a timeout at 16-12 following a Kaydence Tschetter ace, the Patriots went on a 4-2 run to close the gap to two points and draw a timeout from Coach Lien.
Huron responded with strong serving from Ross and challenging the Lincoln hitters at the net, with Elin Schoenhard winning a battle on a block for the final point of a 25-19 fourth-set victory to tie the match and send it to a fifth set.
The Tigers came out notably fired up in the fifth set, and attacks sailed on the hitters, with the first two points for Lincoln coming on Huron errors. That would become a trend in the set.
The two teams traded scores back and forth to 9-9, when the Tigers’ sixth hitting error of the set and a kill from Groen made it 11-9 and drew a timeout from Lien. The Patriots immediately responded with an ace and a kill from Kutey, drawing Lien’s second timeout of the set.
The Tigers did fight back, with Gose nailing two kills out of the second Tiger timeout to bring the score to 13-11 in favor of the Patriots and draw a Patriot timeout, but two more hitting errors gave Lincoln the 15-11 fifth set victory.
Coach Lien was proud of his team’s effort, though he quickly noted the one thing that likely cut the match short for the team.
“I feel like we did everything we could to give ourselves a chance to win. We gave them over half the points in set five on errors, and you’re not going to win a set five like that,” Lien expressed. “It is the team that has the guts to be aggressive. We just weren’t able to do that with our hits or our serves today.”
The Tigers finished the match with 35 hitting errors and 13 service errors in the five-set match.
Lincoln moves onto the consolation championship with a 21-11 record. Kutey led the way with 14 kills for the Patriots, while Nesheim had 13 kills and a pair of service aces.
Samantha Zeeck and Siegel also had two aces from the service line for Lincoln, while Claire Brown led the defense with 43 digs.
The Tigers fall to 18-11 despite three hitters finishing with double-digit kills. Gainey led the attack with 18, Gose added 15, and Kopfmann notched 12 for the Tigers.
Hamtyn Heinz had a well-rounded match, with five service aces, seven kills, and 42 assists on offense. Bryn Huber challenged the single-game dig record with 45, falling a handful short.
Lien noted that the team should see leadership from the seniors in the seventh place matchup with Rapid City Stevens, today at 11:15 a.m.
“If we play like we did today, we should have a good showing tomorrow,” Lien noted. “The seniors know that tomorrow will be it for them in the black, orange, and white.”