O'Gorman rallies to get past Tigers in five

SIOUX FALLS — The O’Gorman Lady Knights were on the second night of back-to-back games after playing Sioux Falls Washington Monday and lost setter Kyra Hermanson to injury in the first set, but still fought back to defeat the Huron Tigers in five sets Tuesday at the O’Gorman gym.

Set scores for the Knights, now 15-10, were 19-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, and 15-8.

The Tigers used poor defensive rotation by O’Gorman to jump out to a quick 5-1 lead in the first set, but the Lady Knights stormed right back, taking a 7-6 lead after a Tiger kill attempt sailed long.

From that point, the Tigers dominated, going on a 10-4 run before Hermanson was injured after coming down on a teammate’s foot after making a jump set. Hermanson exited with the Tigers up 16-11.

Huron saw O’Gorman climb within four at 22-18, but then senior outside hitter DaJai Claggett found another gear at the net, getting a block/kill, then another kill on consecutive series to bring Huron to set point. Hamtyn Heinz nailed a kill in the corner to end the first set with the Tigers on top 25-19.

After O’Gorman combined for 13 hitting and service errors in the first set, Huron was the one struggling to get in system in the second set as the home team built a 9-4 lead on two service aces and four Huron errors before Huron coach TyAnn Ulmer called timeout.

Instead of Huron responding out of the timeout, the break seemed to wake up O’Gorman junior hitter Keira McManus, who nailed two kills out of the timeout as the Lady Knights pushed the lead to 15-6.

The Tigers leaned on Claggett and Heinz to work back into things, drawing a timeout from O’Gorman after the Tigers closed the deficit to 17-13 on a pair of Claggett kills.

If McManus was woken up by the Tigers’ timeout, 6’3” sophomore middle hitter Makenzie Walsh was brought out of slumber by the O’Gorman TO, as she nailed four kills and had multiple strong kill attempts fail just beyond the end line as the Lady Knights closed out a 25-17 win in the second set to even the match at one set apiece.

The two teams battled early in the third set, but Huron utilized the Lady Knights’ own mistakes to build a 16-8 lead, burning through two O’Gorman timeouts. Out of the second timeout, Heinz recorded an ace and Claggett got a kill. After a Walsh kill attempt sailed long, the Tigers had their biggest lead at 19-8.

O’Gorman then seized the momentum, with only their own hitting errors giving Huron positive points. Walsh recorded two kills and McManus had a trio of kills to draw a Huron timeout at 23-16. Even after the timeout, the Tigers were obviously on shaky ground, but an excited O’Gorman hitting attack sent enough balls long that Huron escaped with a 25-21 win.

O’Gorman took the momentum from the end of the third set and built a 9-2 lead in the fourth set before Ullmer called timeout. Huron got the score back to 9-7 and tied the match at 12, but after a Makenzie Siemonsma block/kill drew a Lady Knight timeout, leading 20-19, the home squad rattled off five straight points to close out the 25-19 win and force the fifth set.

Huron fell behind early in the fifth set and never could get momentum to get back into the set, trailing by as many as eight before falling 15-8 in the deciding set to give O’Gorman the match victory.

O’Gorman had three hitters with double-digit kills, led by McManus with 19 kills and a service ace. Walsh finished with 14 kills and Lauren Meyer added 10 kills.

Huron fell to 13-13 despite 11 kills and an ace from DaJai Claggett and 10 kills and three aces from Hamtyn Heinz.

Makenzie Siemonsma added six kills and Samantha Mangmoradeth had five kills for the Tigers.

Coach Ullmer was pleased with the team’s effort, but saw work that could be done better.

“All I asked them to do is compete, and I think they did that today,” Ullmer noted. “There were times to fix things, like blocking the big girls better. We need to work to get into our system and not make the errors that get us out of system. We have to play with the settings we have and correct our passes.”

O’Gorman won the JV match 25-15 and 25-17 and took the sophomore match 25-15 and 25-15.

The Tigers close out the regular season hosting Brandon Valley at the Huron Arena Thursday.

Ullmer says that the Tigers should be able to spin the momentum from the effort Tuesday to Thursday’s season finale.

“Taking (O’Gorman) to five sets in their place was a big deal, and we need to build on that heading into Brandon Valley,” Ullmer noted, focusing immediately on the game plan against the Lynx. “We need to focus at getting their defense out of system, and we’ll be okay.”