HURON — In a match that saw momentum change like the pendulum of a clock, the O’Gorman Lady Knights pulled off a come-from-behind, 3-2 win over the Huron Tigers in volleyball action at Huron Arena.
Emma Ronsiek, the Lady Knights big middle hitter pounded home 24 kills on the night, pacing the O’Gorman attack. Brooke Schiltz and Emily Dale each notched 13 kills for the Tigers, who fall to 5-3, and Mikena Moore added 10 kills and three aces.
“I’m happy with our effort tonight,” said Tiger coach Shelly Buddenhagen. “We were a better team than we were last Thursday.” It was the second straight match for Huron against a team ranked No. 1 in Class AA volleyball. Huron suffered a 3-1 loss to top-ranked Watertown last week and O’Gorman came in tied with Watertown for the top spot in the latest volleyball polls. Huron sits in the top ‘also receiving votes’ slot.
Huron took the first two games by identical 25-23 scores - the first was a nail-biter throughout, while the Tigers had to withstand an O’Gorman comeback to emerge with the set win. Huron led most of the first set, but a couple of errors and a net violation let the Lady Knights sneak back in and take a 21-20 lead. Bergen Reilly had a block kill for O’Gorman and prompted coach Buddenhagen to call a timeout.
Whatever Buddenhagen said in the break worked, as Emily Dale had a pair of kills and Mikena Moore closed out the set with a big kill. The momentum that Huron built to close out set one kept firing in the second set, as the Tigers raced to a quick 7-1 lead and continued to build. But with the score at 17-7 in favor of Huron, O’Gorman began chipping away. Ronsiek got on track and at one point had four straight explosive kills for the Lady Knights. The visitors fought all the way back to take a 23-22 lead, then again saw Dale, Moore and Emily Dale convert three straight kill attempts for the win.
The third set was competitive from the get-go - although neither team held greater than a five-point lead at any point until the end - as the Lady Knights ended the set on a 7-1 run that broke open an 18-18 tie to take the 25-19 win and forced a fourth set.
The momentum was really with O’Gorman in the fourth set, as they raced to a 9-2 lead early. Moore had kills on back-to-back attempts, but Huron was never able to get closer than 10 points after the midway point, as Ronsiek again dominated no matter where she was on the court, as O’Gorman sprinted to a 25-12 win and forced a fifth and final set.
“I really hoped that when we took the first two sets against one of the top teams in the state,” Buddenhagen said, “we would have come out with a bit more enthusiasm. We let them take control and she (Ronsiek) had way too many good swings. We weren’t getting two blockers in front of her and we needed to.”
Huron jumped out 4-1 on the strength of a Schiltz kill and a Moore ace serve, but Grace Bengford and Ronsiek keep the Lady Knights in the game. Both teams were executing on defense and several points were decided only after extended rallies.
A Moore kill knotted the score at eight, but kills by Bengford and Raegen Reilly put O’Gorman up by two and prompted a Huron timeout. An ace by Emma McKay that hit all of the tape and fell over pushed the lead to three, and Huron got no closer. Ronsiek’s 24th kill clinched the match for the Lady Knights, now 7-1 on the season.
“We caused some of our own problems tonight,” Buddenhagen said, “but you know what? We played really well against the top two teams in the state. I think we’re a pretty good team and while we have some things we need to address at practice, it’s early in the season yet.”
Buddenhagen mentioned her team’s passing as one area needing improvement, as it seemed that the Tigers’ passes were either floating high into the air at Huron Arena, or were coming out way too flat.
“We’re still evolving and we are two points better than we were last week,” Buddenhagen said, “which is our goal - to get two points better. Now we’ll work on some things in practice and get ready for Harrisburg this weekend.”
Huron is on the road Saturday, to face the ‘other’ Eastern South Dakota Conference Tigers, the Harrisburg Tigers, in a match scheduled for 3 p.m., before hosting ESD rivals Aberdeen Central and Mitchell back at Huron Arena.
Score by sets
O’Gorman 23 23 25 25 15
Huron 25 25 19 12 10