RAPID CITY — For the second time in a matter of weeks, the Huron volleyball team earned a win against Mitchell, which spent much of the season ranked near the top of the Class AA rankings.
The seventh-seeded Tigers used set scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-15 and 25-20 to get past the second-seeded Kernels in the consolation semifinals at the Class AA State Volleyball Tournament on Friday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
“I thought we recovered really well from some of the things that really didn’t go right yesterday,” Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said of her team’s rebound from a loss in the opening round on Thursday. “Stevens was serving really, really hard yesterday and it kind of freaked us out a little bit. Today we talked about it that it was mind over matter. Our kids mentally handled a lot of things really well today.”
A they did a day early, the Tigers got off to a quick start and emerged with a win in the opening set.
An ace serve by Hollee Niehus, followed by back-to-back ace serves by Tenley Buddenhagen helped Huron rally to even the score at 19-19. Kayla Schimke then used a pair of kills to put the Tigers up 22-19 and cap a 6-0 run.
Mitchell would pull back to within a point at 23-22, but a block kill by Mikena Moore and a kill by Niehus gave Huron the lead in the match with a 25-22 victory in the first set.
After trailing by as many as six points in the second set, the Tigers would rally to challenge for the victory and a 2-0 lead in the match. Using kills by Schimke, Huron shaved its deficit to two on a pair of occasions, however, Mitchell emerged with a 25-22 victory for its lone set win and evened the match score at 1-1.
The Tigers jumped to a five-point advantage in the third set, only to have Mitchell battle back to within a point at 9-8.
A kill by Jayda Shillingstad followed by a kill from Moore propelled a 10-4 run, which netted the Tigers a 20-12 advantage.
Huron would go on to win the set 25-15 to regain the upper hand in the match with two set wins compared to one for the Kernels.
The two teams were virtually dead even through much of the fourth set. Neither team would lead by more than four points as the Tigers looked to close out the match and Mitchell fought to extend it to a fifth set.
With the score tied at 18-18, Huron surged ahead with four consecutive points, which included a kill by Tracy Albrecht, who was seeing her first action in the state tournament, and a block kill by Moore to take a 22-18 lead.
Moments later, Moore scored on a kill and Albrecht followed with another kill to put the Tigers on the door step of victory at 24-20.
Huron would secure the 25-20 win on an ace serve by Alexis Urena and claim the match 3-1.
“The strategy had to change a little bit throughout the match,” Buddenhagen said. “The things that worked well two weeks ago did not work today, so we had to switch it up a little bit. It mixed up Mitchell’s tempo and their rythem.”
While Schimke and Niehus each had 10 kills to lead the Tigers, it was the team’s ability to mix up its offensive attack that made the difference, according to Buddenhagen.
“Yesterday we were one dimensional; we just knew tonight we were going to have to mix it up a lot better,” she said. “We got contribution from everybody, and our bench even got warned for cheering too hard.”
Shillingstad and Buddenhagen had five and four kills, respectively, while Melissa Berg and her replacement in the lineup late in the match, Albrecht, each had three kills.
“Tracy just comes to practice and works hard. She has been in and out of the lineup and studies the game on the bench,” Buddenhagen said of the junior outside hitter. “It’s fun to see those kind of kids have success.
“It really wasn’t anything Melissa was doing wrong,” Buddenhagen said of making the move to insert Albrecht into the lineup. “We knew Tracy was sitting on the bench and studying what was going on with Mitchell. She was actually talking to hitters as they were coming off on their patterns and tendencies. We heard that and was here Tracy, get in there!”
The Tigers also stepped up their effort on the defensive side of the court on Friday. Havyn Heinz tallied a team-high 20 digs, while Niehus had 11 digs, and Buddenhagen and Isabell Ford each had 10 digs.
“Volleyball can be so simple, just keep the ball off the ground and our kids did that for the most part,” Buddenhagen said.
Shillingstad finished with 28 assists, while Niehus and Buddenhagen had four and three aces, respectively. Schimke added a pair of solo blocks.
Mitchell was led by Mackenzie Miller with 15 kills, while Chelsea Brewster and Carly Haring each had 12 kills. Mandy Schmidt recorded 37 assists, while Brester and Bridet Thill finished with 21 and 15 digs, respectively. Sage Jorgensen had three aces.
Huron, which is now 15-11, will face fourth-seeded Aberdeen Central in the consolation title match at 10:45 a.m. MT today.
The Golden Eagles were able to rally past Sioux Falls O’Gorman on Friday, despite losing another one of its key players to an injury in the match.
“I really feel for them. Karli Gardner tore an ACL last year in basketball, Paiton Burckhard suffered a partial tear yesterday, and today Melia Mounga blew her ACL,” Buddenhagen said. “They are going to come out with a lot of emotion and rally for those kids.”
Mitchell, which is now 20-6, will face eighth-seeded Sioux Falls O’Gorman in the seventh-place match at 9 a.m. MT today.