SIOUX FALLS — Polly Gill’s 16 kills, four service aces and 14 digs led top-seed Pierre past stubborn Huron in Thursday’s opening round of the state Class AA volleyball tournament at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The win propels the Lady Gov’s into
uncharted territory — today’s
championship semifinals. In just two
previous appearances at the state
tournament, Pierre’s best finish was a
fifth, last year.
Huron, eighth-seeded after beating Rapid City Central to give the Tigers their first Class AA berth since 2005, was determined to make Pierre earn its 22nd win of the season.
Huron’s quick-set attack kept the Lady Govs off balance, but Pierre was able to pull away with a 5-0 run late in the first game. Bethany Goeden’s three kills led the run.
In Game 2, Pierre overcame a 17-15 Huron lead
with a 7-1 surge. Goeden was instrumental in
that run with three points coming off of kills.
“We had a little bit of nervousness. Huron did a nice job with their quick offense. We had a hard time getting up there blocking it,” Pierre coach Kacy Kienholz said.
Game 3 was all Pierre. The Lady Govs raced to a 17-4 lead with Gill, Goeden and Sam Flynn dominating at the net.
Trisha Birr paced something of a recovery for Huron, but Pierre was never challenged.
“In that third game we came out with a little more confidence. We were able to relax a little bit and just play,” Kienholz said.
The Tigers were led by Birr, a senior middle hitter with 14 kills. Mollie Merriam had 24 set-assists, two aces and 11 digs for Huron, 8-16.
“Games 1 and 2, I was pretty pleased with the girls,” Huron coach Britt Samson said. “The wheels kind of came off the bus in that third game.
“We only have one player (Birr) who’s ever played in a state tournament,” Samson said. “I think our inexperience showed up in the third game.”
Pierre will take the court against defending AA champion Roosevelt in tonight’s first championship semifinal at 5 p.m. MST.
Roosevelt 17-6, got a combined 24 kills from Heather Goering and Steph Kroeze to stop Aberdeen Central in three games, 25-18, 25-23, 25-14 in Thursday’s second afternoon quarterfinal.
Aberdeen Central, 17-7, will meet Huron, 8-16 in today’s first consolation semifinal at 9 a.m.