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Sports: Pierre hands Mitchell 3-0 loss

Matt Bunke The Daily Republic
Published Friday, September 14, 2007

If the Pierre High School volleyball team had any concerns about beating Mitchell twice in six days, it didn’t show Thursday night.

The Lady Govs jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first game and never looked back, cruising to a 3-0 victory over the Kernels to remain perfect at 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Eastern South Dakota Conference.

Pierre also beat Mitchell 3-0 last Friday night.

“They’re good,” Mitchell head coach Deb Thill said. “You have to give them credit. They don’t make a lot of errors, they play great defense, they attack the ball well, and they serve well. That’s what you have to do to succeed.”

While Pierre did virtually everything well, Mitchell struggled, especially early, when it dug a hole from which it couldn’t escape. The Lady Govs came out with a strong service game, and the Kernels were slow to respond.

“We needed to cut down on the errors,” Thill said. “We basically scored their first seven points for them on our errors. They didn’t even have to take a swing. All they were doing was serving it. We just have to be better at taking care of our side.”

While the Kernels had trouble limiting their errors, especially in the first two games, which they dropped 25-10 and 25-12, they started to turn things around late in the third game.

Unfortunately for the Kernels, it was too little, too late.

Down 22-13 at one point in the third game, Mitchell rallied, eventually closing the gap to 24-22 after staving off five match points in the process. Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent the team’s fourth consecutive loss.

“Sometimes when we’re in a hole, we tend to play better and harder,” Mitchell junior setter Kendra Knight said. “We need to change that obviously. We just felt the momentum, and we kept going with it.”

Added junior Ashley Dorale: “The momentum of the game picked up, and we were ready to play.”

However, if the Kernels wish to be more competitive in ESD, where they dropped to 1-4 (3-4 overall), they know they have to come out ready to play earlier in the match than the third game.

“We know we need to play like we did in the third game,” Knight said. “We need to be that team all the time, not just some of the time.”

Still, given the team’s sluggish performance in the first two games, it was encouraging for Thill to see her team remain focused and come out strong in the third game, especially against one of the better teams in the state.

“There are a lot of positives we can take out of this,” Thill said. “We did a lot of nice things throughout the match. We just didn’t put together a string of enough of them.”

Mitchell was led offensively by Taylor Overweg’s four kills. Kendra Knight had nine assists, three kills and two aces, and Taylor Piper had 19 digs. Melissa Muehler finished with three kills and seven digs.

“I don’t think our kids ever laid down,” Thill said. “They tried hard. You can’t fault their effort, and you can’t fault their attitude. That’s all I ask them to do.”

Mitchell’s junior varsity team fell to the Lady Govs Thursday, 2-1. The sophomores won 2-0, and the freshman team won both matches by 2-0 scores.

Mitchell returns to action Saturday at Watertown at 7:30 p.m.