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Tigers earn trip to state tourney

Posted: Saturday, Nov 16th, 2013

Huron’s Kelly McCarty tips the ball at the net during a Region 2AA match against Spearfish on Thursday at Huron Arena. Next, Huron’s Halee Allerdings plays a volley during Thursday’s match against Spearfish. And next, Huron’s Hannah Nelson passes the ball during a Region 2AA volleyball match against Spearfish at Huron Arena. PHOTOS BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN

HURON — It took the Huron Tigers just over an hour on Thursday to secure its spot in the field for the Class AA State Volleyball Tournament.

The Tigers used set scores of 25-15, 25-14 and 25-19 to sweep the Spearfish Spartans in a Region 2AA match at Huron Arena.

“When this year started we were so far under the radar and we weren’t picked to get to the state tournament, so this team has accomplished way more than a lot of people thought,” Huron coach Shelly Buddenhagen said. “Right now we’re just going to celebrate getting to the state tournament and later on we’ll worry who we are going to play.”

The Tigers capitalized on being in comfortable surroundings during the open set of the match. They were able to build a 10-3 to establish control.

Entering the match there were some questions as to whether Huron would be able to operate offensively at the same caliber it had throughout the season. Senior setter Kelly McCarty suffered a knee injury during the District 3AA title match on Saturday, so her status was very much up in the air.

The answer came midway through the opening set, when the Tigers settled in a started hammering some monster kills into the Spearfish defensive unit.

Senior Asia King recorded a kill to ink the first of three consecutive points, which allowed Huron to stake a 17-8 lead. McCarty also had her lone ace serve of the match during the run.

“Once we knew Kelly could play, we all just settled down,” Buddenhagen said. “The passers took care of Kelly and were working really hard so she didn’t have to run around. We had some really good passes and that puts us in system to give our hitters a nice big chance.”

Spearfish would get no closer than seven points during the remainder of the opening set, included another thundering kill from King, a tip kill by McCarty and back-to-back kills by Sami Zell and Halee Allerdings.

The second set took a much similar path as the first, with Huron building an 8-3 advantage. Back-to-back kills by Allerdins and an ace serve by King propelled the Tigers to the early lead.

After a kill by McCarty from the setter position, Hannah Nelson stepped to the service line and collected a pair of points for Huron. The first coming on a tip kill by Jacey Hupp and the second coming on a tip by McCarty.

After losing the serve on a hitting error, the Tigers would score six of the next seven points to take a 20-9 lead. King had a pair of kills and then hit back-to-back aces to spark the rally.

Zell helped Huron take a 2-0 lead in the match, playing a key role in the final three points of the 25-14 victory. She combined with Hupp for a block kill, recorded a solo block and then recorded a kill on an errant pass by the Spartans.

“I thought we served aggressively, which caused a lot of chaos on the other side of the net and I thought we cut down some unforced errors, got aggressive and started swinging again,” Buddenhagen said. “It all starts with the pass. If you can’t pass, you can’t pound.”

The Tigers trailed until the midway point of the third set. They pulled even at 8-8 and took a short-lived 9-8 lead on a tip kill by McCarty.

The two teams then remained within a point of each other until Lexi Eckmann gave Huron an 18-16 lead with a tip kill. After a Spearfish timeout, Zell and Allerdings recorded back-to-back kills to make it 20-16.

The Tigers then moved to within match point with a Zell kill sandwiched in between a pair of kills by Allerdings.

Huron earned its berth in the Class AA state tournament just moments later.

“Spearfish played very good defense and we knew this coming in. They are a very young team and did some things that we weren’t use to seeing, so I thought our kids dealt well with that new variable,” Buddenhagen said. “We just kept coming after it trying to get some swings and some ryhthem. At the end we got some big blocks and shut their offense down.”

Allerdings finished with 11 kills to lead the Tigers, who improved to 18-4. King and Zell added 10 and nine kills, respectively, while McCarty had 28 assists.

King also had five of the team’s seven aces. McCarty and Lizzy Katz also had ace serves.

Bailey Rathjen amassed a team-high 20 digs for Huron defensively. Hupp had 11 digs and Allerdings had six digs.

“Our defense has been getting better,” Buddenhagen said. “We put Bailey in the middle back and used her quickness a lot more in the back row.”

King finished with three solo blocks for the Tigers, while Eckmann and Allerdings each had a solo block.

Shelby Dittman led Spearfish, which ends the season at 18-11, with six kills and a solo block. Lexi Burkett finished with four kills, while Ashton Burditt had 11 assists and 11 digs. Rickie Engesser had a team-high 15 digs.

The Tigers now await the opening round pairings for the Class AA State Tournament, which is scheduled Nov. 21-23 in Mitchell.

For the complete article see the 11-15-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-15-2013 paper.

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