Tigers rally to edge No. 4 O’Gorman in five

HURON — The Huron Tigers came from 10-points down in the fourth game and held on to defeat the No. 4-rated Sioux Falls O’Gorman Lady Knights 3-2 in non-conference volleyball action at Huron Arena on Tuesday night.
“We needed to play with no fear tonight against a team like O’Gorman, whom we haven’t beaten in a couple of years,” said Tiger head coach Shelly Buddenhagen after the game.
Set scores for Huron were 25-21, 16-25, 16-25, 30-28 and 17-15. Huron improves to 5-3 with the win while O’Gorman drops to 5-2.
The Tigers came out strong in the opening set, trading points early, but then going on a 4-0 run, keyed by a pair of Kayla Schimke kills.
O’Gorman fought back, but the Tigers answered every challenge.
After the Lady Knights managed to cut the margin to three points, at 11-8, Jayda Shillingstad provided a kill, but O’Gorman responded with a kill by its 6-foot, 1-inch sophomore, Emma Ronsiek.
Schimke sandwiched five kills around a Havyn Heinz ace to take a 17-11 lead, only to see the Lady Knights rally to make it 22-20.
But in a game of momentum swings, the last swing went Huron’s way. Hollee Niehus recorded a kill, O’Gorman put one in the net and then Schimke knocked home the game-winner, her sixth in the set, for a 25-21 Tiger win.
Sets two and three were nearly carbon-copies.
Scores remained close in the early going, the O’Gorman hit the gas, putting a little daylight in the score, only to see the Tigers struggle to get back into the game.
Both games ended in the win column for the Lady Knights, by identical 25-16 scores.
Set four was an instant classic, if you were a Huron Tiger fan, but it didn’t look good for the home team in the early going.
O’Gorman came screaming out of the gate, as Ronsiek had four kills and three aces to help stake the Lady Knights to a quick 8-1 lead. Huron mounted a couple mini-rallies - getting the deficit down to six at 14-8 - before putting three straight points in the net to give O’Gorman an 18-8 lead.
Huron clawed its way back into the game, as a Schimke kill, combined with a couple of Lady Knight errors and another Heinz ace made it 19-14.
An OG hitting error and a Schimke kill made it 19-16, then back-to-back-to-back errors put the Lady Knights on the precipice at 22-16, and prompting a Shelly Buddenhagen time out.
“We talked about why it was that we worked so hard during the summer,” Buddenhagen said. “That it was for moments just like where we were right there. We reminded everyone to do their job, because when everyone does her job, good things happen.”
Out of the timeout, O’Gorman got a kill from Jaime Renshaw to make it 23-17, then promptly served the next ball out. Kills by Niehus, Schimke and Jayda Shillingstad cut the lead to three at 23-21, but another kill from Ronsiek pushed the Lady Knights to set and match point.
But Niehus got a kill, Alexis Urena got a service ace and freshman Mikena Moore got back-to-back kills to give Huron its first lead in the set at 25-24.
Baruth tied the score, but kills by Ronsiek were wedged between a service error, a net violation and another Moore kill to make it 28-27, Huron.
Senior Elizabeth Schilling tied the score for the last time at 28, before Schimke pounded home the final two points for the improbable come-from-behind win.
“We want to find a way to get better each point,” Buddenhagen said after the game. “Find ways. Kayla and Hollee did that tonight, Jayda played a great all-around game again and Mikena got rolling at just the right time.”
The tired teams took to the court for set five and again, the Lady Knights broke open a game that was close  early with a 4-0 run and a 7-3 lead, before Huron came to life once again.
Shillingstad got a crafty kill on a quick tip, then fed Schimke to make it 7-6. Baruth responded for OG, but Schimke, Moore and Shillingstad posted three in a row for a 9-8 Tiger lead.
A pair of Lady Knight errors, and another Moore kill made it 12-8 Huron, but O’Gorman responded with a 5-1 run, keyed by a pair of Ronsiek blocks, to forge a 13-all tie.
Niehus and Ronsiek traded kills and a Huron hitting error put O’Gorman on the brink at 15-14.
But first Shillingstad, then Schimke booked kills and the back-and-forth match ended with a whimper, as the Lady Knights committed a net violation to give Huron the win.
“It’s amazing what a little momentum will do for a team,” Buddenhagen said. “I think we just stopped worrying and played. We concentrated on doing our jobs and doing the little things and it all fell into place.”
Schimke had a team-high 19 kills on the night, while Niehus knocked home 15. Shillingstad had eight kills and ended with 28 assists on the night, and Moore had nine kills. Heinz had four aces and 30 digs on the night, and Tenley Buddenhagen added two more aces.
For O’Gorman, Ronsiek was credited with 24 kills and Baruth added 14.
“She is really tough,” Coach Buddenhagen said of the tall Lady Knight. “We saw her play in our tournament earlier and saw what she likes to do, so our conversation was more about what we were capable of doing rather than what she does. Our back row did a great job digging and keeping points alive tonight.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Huron as they will travel to ESD rival Aberdeen on Thursday night. Just like O’Gorman before its Huron loss, Aberdeen Central’s only blemish on the season is a five-set loss to top-rated Mitchell. It was the season opener for both teams.


Huron’s Jayda Shillingstad sets the ball during a match against Sioux Falls O’Gorman on Tuesday at Huron Arena.

Next, Huron’s Alexis Urena passes the ball during a match against Sioux Falls O’Gorman on Tuesday at Huron Arena.

And next, Huron’s Hollee Niehus volleys the ball during a match against Sioux Falls O’Gorman on Tuesday at Huron Arena.

Photos by Mike Carroll/Plainsman

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