HURON — After spanking the Aberdeen Central Golden Eagles 3-0 Saturday night, the Huron Tigers were eager to get back on the court and build on the momentum. The Mitchell Kernels invaded Huron Arena Thursday night, as the Tigers hosted their Highway 37 rival in its homecoming week match.
Huron took the first two sets, dropped the third in extra time, and fell behind in the fourth before rallying for the 3-1 win, dropping Mitchell to 2-9 on the season.
“We kind of lost our focus tonight after the second set,” said Huron mentor Shelly Buddenhagen. “Mitchell is hungry and are playing better just as we are and they really went after it in that third set tonight.”
Huron came out on fire in the first set, racing to a quick 10-3 lead and building the margin to 10 points on kills from Libby Rounds, Mikena Moore and Emily Dale. The Kernels rallied but Moore and Dale went back-to-back, Moore notched an ace and more kills from Rounds and Dale closed out the 25-15 win.
Mitchell jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but kills from Brooke Schiltz and Dale saw the Tigers battle back to a 6-3 lead. Alaina Dale notched a kill, Havyn Heinz had an ace, Schiltz added another kill and Alaina Dale closed the rally with a kill that put Huron ahead 12-5. The Tigers pushed the lead back to 10, but this time around couldn’t shake the Kernels until a late rally pushed Huron across the finish line for a 25-16 win.
The Kernels again jumped out ahead in set three, but this time, the visitors maintained their advantage. Moore and Rounds got Huron within two points, at 11-9, but Mitchell refused to yield. The scenario was repeated several times - the Tigers would get close, only to see the Kernels put some daylight in the scores.
Huron tied the set at 20-20 as Moore capped a 4-0 run that included kills from both Emily and Alaina Dale. Huron took the lead and with another Moore kill and a kill off the bench by Jazz McGirr, Huron was poised to close the match, 24-20.
But with their back against the wall, the Kernels rallied. A pair of kills from Regan Waddell and four hitting errors from the Tigers lifted Mitchell to a 26-24 win.
“We didn’t do things the way we need to do them in the third set,” Buddenhagen said. “We didn’t move our feet and we were out of sync. But it may have been a blessing in disguise,” she continued, “as we fought through it and gained back the momentum. We lost the set, but we showed a lot of fight.”
The Kernels built on that momentum in the fourth set, jumping out to a 7-2 lead before Huron began to rally. Rounds had a kill, as did Schiltz, then a pair of Moore kills and one from Emily Dale forged a 10-10 tied. Mitchell scored two straight points, but this time when the Tigers got the momentum back, they held it.
Alaina Dale got a kill that put Huron up 19-16 and quick points from Rounds and Moore pushed the margin to four. But a Mitchell timeout couldn’t stem the wave of momentum on which the Tigers were rolling, as a kill from Emily Dale and a pair from Schiltz closed out the win for the Tigers, 25-19
Huron, now 7-4 on the season, boasted a balanced attack in the match, something that pleased Buddenhagen. Moore ended with 12 kills, Emily Dale had 11, Libby Rounds had 10 and Schiltz contributed nine. Moore also contributed four aces to the win and Heinz added to her career dig record with 37 more digs in the game. Setter Tenley Buddenhagen was credited with 47 assists in the match.
“I am happy with the win, especially during homecoming week,” Coach Buddenhagen said. “We showed some grit and overcame some adversity tonight and I’m proud of how we fought back.”
Huron returns to competition with a Saturday afternoon match at Brookings and is at Aberdeen on Tuesday night.
Mitchell 15 16 26 19
Huron 25 25 24 25