Tigers rally for win against Brookings in five sets

JOHN DAVIS/SDSPORTSCENE Huron’s Aurora Dreyer (16) and Samantha Mangmoradeth (5) defend the net as Aberdeen Central’s Lauryn Burckhard, far right, reaches to hit the ball during Tuesday night’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena. At right for the Tigers is DaJai Claggett.

BROOKINGS — The Huron Tigers broke a four-game slide, coming back from a two-set deficit to post a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Brookings Bobcats Thursday night in ESD volleyball action from the Brookings High School Gymnasium.

Set scores for the Tigers, who improve to 7-4 with the hard-fought win, were 18-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, 18-16. Brookings, which came in as winners in seven of its previous eight contests, falls to 9-8.

“The girls really did a good job of taking the hard work they put in at practice and transferring it to the court tonight,” said TyAnn Ulmer, Huron head coach.

The fifth and deciding set was a nail-biter from the very start. Huron opened up a quick 4-1 lead and appeared poised to put the match on ice early.

But a controversial call, on a Sam Mangmoradeth kill attempt that clearly landed inside the line, went instead to the Bobcats. Huron stumbled for a moment, committing three straight errors and giving up the lead.

Brookings built on its momentum, as Macy Even connected on consecutive kills and Kymber Buys added a kill to put the Bobcats up 8-5, prompting a Huron timeout. Out of the timeout, the Tigers began chipping away. Aly Davis got a tip to fall for a kill, Alexis Ziegeldorf came off the bench for a kill and Makenzie Siemonsma made a big swing to cut into the Bobcat lead. The teams exchanged errors, then, down two, Huron got kills from Mangmoradeth and DaJai Claggett to forge an 11-11 tie, leading to a Brookings timeout.

Rylee Thompson gave the lead back to the Bobcats, but Claggett stroked an ace to tie it back up at 13. Kills from Mangmoradeth and Davis gave Huron the lead at 15-14, but Even connected on consecutive kill attempts to put Brookings up 16-15.

But the service error bug, which had infected the Bobcats all night long, reached out and set a Brookings serve into the net. Tied 16-16, Huron ran its offense to perfection, as Hamtyn Heinz found Davis, who pounded home a kill for a Huron lead, and when Brookings attempted to find a hole in the Tiger defense on the ensuing play, Siemonsma put up a wall, blocking Even for the decisive point of the match.

“I liked out mental toughness,” Ulmer said after the match. “When you get a call that you believe has gone against you, you need to move past it and get back to work. We stumbled, but got it out of our head and worked hard point-by-point for the win in the fifth set.”

Although the Tigers dropped the first two sets by decisive margins, the final difference in both instances was the largest of each set, as both teams mounted four and five point rallies to keep the score close. Huron never led in the first set, but remained in contact until the Bobcats closed the set on a 6-2 run for the win.

The Huron iceberg began to melt a bit in the second set, as first Claggett and Davis began to find holes in the Bobcat defense. Back-to-back aces from Even gave the Bobcats a 10-4 lead, but the Tigers responded with a Claggett kill - she would end the night with 16 huge hits - and back-to-back big swings from Mangmoradeth to close within a point.

Brookings responded with a run on its own, to re-establish a four-point cushion, before  Heinz found an open spot to carve the margin to two points, but Arielle Ferrell responded, igniting a Bobcat rally that Buys ended with her third ace of the match.

Huron’s Makenzie Siemonsma (22) reaches to hit the ball as Aberdeen Central’s Ashley Wangler defends the net during Tuesday night’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena.

The Tigers came out much more aggressive in the third set, attacking more and finding themselves rewarded for taking action.

Sydney Bebensee had consecutive kills to give Brookings an 8-7 lead, but Huron responded with a kill by Mangmoradeth and one of Madison Hershman’s three ace serves on the night to take a lead that Huron would not give up the rest of the way. Brookings got back to within a single point, but Claggett feasted on a big kill to close the set.

Set four found Huron trailing from the outset, but staying with two or three points. Brookings had its largest lead of the set at 21-17 before Huron scored the next six points, including kills from Siemonsma and Claggett and an ace from Madison Jurgens to forge a 23-21 lead. Bebensee got another kill for Brookings, but Claggett went back-to-back to push the match to the deciding fifth set.

In addition to Claggett’s outstanding night, Davis added 10 kills, Mangmoradeth added nine and Siemonsma collected eight, as Huron achieved the variable offense that Ulmer has sought.

“DaJai was our go to tonight,” Ulmer said, “but when we are able to spread it around and have numerous hitters that we can go to, it makes us so much more difficult to defend. We did that the third, fourth and fifth sets tonight.”

Huron will get a day of practice today, then will be back on the road Saturday, taking on unbeaten and defending Class “B” champion Warner at the Pentagon volleyball classic, with an 11:45 a.m. start time.