SIOUX FALLS – Perhaps showing a bit of exhaustion following Tuesday’s grueling 5-set match, the Huron Tigers fell in straight sets to the Sioux Falls Lincoln Patriots Thursday in Sioux Falls.
Set scores for the Patriots were 25-22, 25-16, 25-15.
Huron coach Joshua Lien expressed that the long game Tuesday against top-ranked Washington, the road trip, and homecoming week all culminated in a lack of focus on the court Thursday night for his squad.
“The amount of focus and the amount of discipline showed up tonight,” Lien observed. “Hopefully, this one humbles us tonight.”
Lincoln came out firing, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first set before a pair of Patriot hitting errors and a Brynn Gose kill brought the Tigers within 5-4.
The Patriots would keep the Tigers at arm’s length until a four-point Huron run finished off by Hamtyn Heinz winning a battle at the net gave the Tigers a 12-all tie.
Then the Tigers served the ball into the net.
Three kills from junior middle hitter Nyareal Kutey keyed a five-point run that put Lincoln up 17-12.
Gose would put down a pair of kills, but Linnea Nesheim matched her with consecutive kills of her own to make it 20-14 Patriots and draw a timeout from Lien. Nesheim was able to get two kills, but otherwise, the Tigers used excellent serving to put Lincoln’s attack out of position and climb back into the game at 22-21.
However, that would be the last gasp, as a Huron service error, a Tiger hitting error, and a block/kill from Sophia Siegel for Lincoln gave the Patriots their final points in a 25-22 first set victory.
The Patriots came out firing in the second set, climbing to a 4-1 lead after Samantha Zeeck scored the first service ace of the match for either team.
The Tigers would climb back through a strong hitting game from Gose and Heavan Gainey on the edges and Karsyn Kopfmann up the middle and even distribution by Heinz to all three. A Gose hit put the Lincoln defense out of position and the return hit off the net pole, giving Huron a point to tie the set at 7-7.
Then the Tigers committed a service error. With the momentum halted, Lincoln took advantage, getting aggressive in attacks, with Kutey frequently leaving the Tigers return defense out of position with her hits.
Four hitting errors by the Tigers aided in pushing the score out to 19-13 in favor of Lincoln when Lien called timeout.
Gainey found the floor with three kills out of the timeout, but it was not enough as Lincoln finished on a 6-3 run to take the second set 25-16.
On a hitting error by the Patriots, the Tigers opened set three with their first lead of the match, 1-0.
The lead would disappear quickly, and after Lincoln got the lead 2-1, the Tigers would never be within one point of the Patriots again in the third set.
Lincoln controlled the tempo, though freshman middle hitter Elin Schoenhard did disrupt the pace with three blocks in the set, but it simply delayed the inevitable in a resounding 25-15 third set victory for Lincoln to close out the sweep.
The third set was an exclamation on what Lien felt was an all-around struggle from the team over the course of the match.
“Normally, we are up to the task,” he lamented. “We were just off in all facets of the game.”
The Patriots move to 11-4 behind 15 kills from Kutey, 13 kills from Siegel, and 11 kills from Nesheim.
The Tigers fall to 12-5. Gainey led the way with nine kills and Gose had eight. Schoenhard had five kills and three blocks.
Lincoln swept the lower levels, winning the JV match 25-13 and 25-13 and the sophomore match 25-17 and 25-16.
Huron travels to Pierre Tuesday and won’t return home until Oct. 13. Lien says this stretch will test the Tigers’ mettle.
“We’ll get our routine back next week,” Lien noted. “It’s time to be more crisp than we were today.”