RAPID CITY — The Huron Tigers will be playing for the consolation championship at the Class AA State Volleyball Tournament.
The Tigers earned their spot in the consolation title match with a 3-1 victory against the Pierre Governors on Friday in the consolation semifinals at Summit Arena at The Monument.
“Anytime the eighth seed gets to compete for a consolation championship that’s a benefit for us,” Huron coach Josh Lien said. “I have been talking about wanting two wins here and the girls absolutely know that tomorrow can complete that mission or goal of getting two wins in The Monument.
“We’re going to put a plan together and come ready tomorrow just like we did today to beat Pierre,” he said.
Just like they did on Thursday in their opening match, the Tigers got off to a hot start against the fifth-seeded Governors. Huron used a 7-1 run to take a 10-4 lead in the opening set and would lead by as many as eight points en route to a 25-18 win.
Pierre regrouped and was able to take the early lead in the second set. They five straight points, which included back-to-back kills by MaKenna Schlekeway to build a 13-7 advantage.
The Governors would lead by as many as eight points, before scoring eight of the final nine points secure a 25-14 win in the set and even the match at 1-1.
“What a difference momentum makes in this game,” Lien said. “They had momentum coming out of set 2 because they owned set 2.”
The third set remained close until Pierre put together a 5-0 run to stake a 10-5 lead. A kill by Ayvrie Kaiser provided the Governors with their biggest lead at 17-11.
The Tigers were able to break some of the momentum Pierre had built with consecutive kills by Reese Rozell, Brynn Gose and Emily Dale to shave the deficit to 17-14. A hitting error by the Governors and another kill by Gose pulled Huron back to within a point.
Pierre stretched its lead back to four points at 21-17, before Huron made another push for the lead.
A tip kill by Hamtyn Heinz started the rally for the Tigers. Three kills from Gose, who had a total of seven kills in the third set, and an ace serve from Heinz gave Huron a 22-21 lead.
The two teams would match each other’s score twice in the final stages of the set, but the Tigers capitalized on a hitting by the Governors and an ace serve from Gose to secure a 25-23 win in the set and a 2-1 lead in the match.
“They started set three strong and then our pin hitters kind of came alive,” Lien said. “We looked to Brynn Gose, she had a bunch of kills in that set, and Reese had four in that set.
“The change that nobody saw coming and I would agree it would be me as well, would be Peyton Schuchardt on that back pin coming in with a little senior magic,” he said. “With not a lot of reps the past 30 days, she went in, got a kill on that tip kill over the block. Her eyes when I told her she was serving, because my other two options in that rotation were hitting the back line out of bounds, were huge. That is just a moment where a kid makes a coach just look a little bit smart. She rattled off about five straight serves and we were right back in the set. That set three was all the difference.”
Back-to-back kills by Dale and an ace serve from Huber helped the Tigers to a 9-2 lead in the fourth set.
With Pierre being unable to mount a serious threat until late in the fourth set, Lien used the opportunity to get some of the other players on the roster some time on the floor and they were able to figure into the outcome.
“That’s kind of nice. With a 4- to 7-point lead all the way through set 4, kids play loose, they don’t panic, they play a little bit faster and they take a few more risks,” Lien said. “When you figure out a way to play that way always, you’re going to win a lot of volleyball matches. I thought our kids did well.
“Kaydence Tschetter saw the floor, Emma Ross had some great big serves for us, and I thought it was a really nice job of kids not panicking at the big moment and doing what we could to get points when Pierre felt they should score,” he said.
After building a 23-15 advantage the Tigers had to thwart one more comeback bid from Pierre to earn a shot at the consolation title.
The Governors were able to shave their deficit to just three points at 24-21, before Huron used a timeout to set up a final game plan to secure the win.
A kill by Dale on the first play following the timeout clinched it for the Tigers with a 25-21 victory.
“When I called timeout I was thinking ‘Oh goodness they are starting to hit a little momentum’, Lien said. “Right away, coach Tyann Ulmer called the play, she said the 3 shot is going to be open. Emily comes on a big swoop around and as long as Hamtyn pushes the ball to her, it’s going to end the game.
“Give credit to Ty, she called that last play and it worked brilliantly,” he said. “Every once in a while the kids make us coaches look pretty smart.”
Huron, which improved to 15-11, had 50 kills in the match, including 12 each from Gose, Dale and Rozell.
Huber and Rozell had 20 and 15 digs, respectively, for the Tigers, while Heinz recorded 38 assists.
Kaiser finished with 16 kills to lead Pierre, which is now 16-7. Schlekeway and Reese Terwilliger each had 10 kills.
Remington Price had a team-high 21 digs for the Governors, while Lily Sanchez recorded 32 assists.
Huron will face seventh-seeded Sioux Falls Lincoln in the consolation championship match at 11:45 a.m., today, while Pierre meets sixth-seeded Harrisburg for seventh place at 10 a.m., today.