BROOKINGS — The third set was more of a challenge than the first two by a long ways, but the Huron Tigers swept their way into the Class “AA” State Volleyball Tournament championship against Sioux Falls O’Gorman with a victory over Sioux Falls Roosevelt Friday night at the Swiftel Center in Brookings, 25-14, 25-20, and 26-24.
After Roosevelt took the first two points, Huron went on a 7-0 run behind the serving of Tenley Buddenhagen to draw a timeout from the Rough Riders. That timeout didn’t slow anything down, though, as the Tigers continued their run to 10-2 before Roosevelt was able to break serve.
Huron pushed with aggressive hitting and defense at the net, with Buddenhagen directing the attack from her setter position. Coach Shelly Buddenhagen saw the net play as the focus in the match.
“We knew the two setters may neutralize each other and that it could be a battle at the net,” Buddenhagen predicted.
The Tigers continued pushing the pace, keeping the Rough Riders at an arm’s length throughout the first set. With Lexy Gilbert’s serving getting the Roosevelt defense out of sync, the Rough Riders took their second first-set timeout at 21-10 Tigers.
The Huron Tigers finished off the first set 25-14 on a Brynn Gose kill.
Huron came out strong in the second set, and the Tigers began to flash plenty of smiles on the court as the momentum was strongly in the favor of the orange and black.
Roosevelt made a run to get within three before the Tigers went on a strong run, including two very long rallies, to finish off the second set at 25-20.
The teams played very entertaining rallies in the third set, with each team coming out with a point after long rallies, but the Tigers continued to keep Roosevelt at a distance through the third set, working with at least a four-point lead for nearly the entirety of the third set.
However, Roosevelt made a run to bring the set to 18-17 and draw the first timeout of the match from Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen.
Buddenhagen said the team was focused to come out of the final timeout at 24-23 and bring home a victory.
“We talked about that we wanted to be aggressive coming out of the timeout to finish the game,” Buddenhagen
Senior Mikena Moore hit a crosscourt shot to secure the 26-24 third-set victory for the Huron Tigers.
The Huron Tigers move to 19-4 with the victory behind a huge game from Tenley Buddenhagen, who orchestrated the Tiger offense with 30 assists, had six service aces, and also had three blocks.
Brooke Schiltz led the Tigers hitting attack with 12 kills. Bryn Huber and Mattie Huber set the tone for the defense with 14 and 12 digs, respectively.
The Rough Riders were led by Abby Ward and Megan Halvorson with seven kills each. Elizabeth Denevan led Roosevelt with 17 assists and 11 digs while Kat Nelson also had 11 digs.
Roosevelt falls to 11-11 and will face Sioux Falls Washington for third place tonight at 5 p.m. with the championship to follow.
Coach Buddenhagen is looking forward to the matchup tonight.
“We haven’t seen them since early September,” Buddenhagen observed about O’Gorman. “The pressure is on them. We get to go in and have fun while they’re expected to go in and win a championship.”