Tigers fall to No. 1-ranked Harrisburg

Curt Nettinga of the Plainsman
Posted 9/14/23

Huron takes first set, but then falls to Harrisburg

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Tigers fall to No. 1-ranked Harrisburg


HURON — The Huron Tigers took only the third set of the season from the top-ranked, defending state champion Harrisburg Tigers Thursday night at Huron Arena, but dropped the match as the visitors came back with three straight sets for the win.

Set scores for Harrisburg were 21-25,  25-13, 25-20 and 25-15. Harrisburg improves to 10-0 while Huron dropped its third straight match, falling to 6-3 on the season.

“We went out and competed much better tonight,” said Huron head coach TyAnn Ulmer. “The girls really worked hard in practice after the Yankton match and I thought we did a much better job tonight.”

Although Harrisburg took a quick lead, its attack was sluggish, as numerous errors allowed Huron to stay in the set in the early going. Two Harrisburg mistakes and a big swing from Sam Mangmoradeth brought Huron within two points, at 8-6. Brylie Krier got a kill for Harrisburg, but Makenzie Siemonsma countered, igniting a Huron 7-1 rally.

DaJai Claggett got three kills in the run, Mangmoradeth dunked a Harrisburg overpass and Hamtyn Heinz scored on a quick-set to put the home team up 14-11. Harrisburg scored on a Huron error, but the home team scored the next four points, capped by a Mangmoradeth kill.

Siemonsma got a block kill that put Huron up by five, 19-14, and although Harrisburg managed to get the margin down to one point late, Huron never gave up the lead and closed the set with a Claggett kill and a Heinz ace.

“We came out and played much looser tonight,” Ulmer said, “and when we play loose, we compete better and that happened tonight in the first set.”

Huron’s DaJai Claggett goes up for a block as Harrisburg’s Karalynn Leach spikes the ball during their match Thursday at Huron Arena.

Hoping to build on the momentum of the first set win - only the third set Harrisburg has dropped thus far this season - Huron instead came out flat in the second stanza. Harrisburg rode three kills from Lauren Venenga, two from Karalynn Leach and one from Bergen Stiff to jump out to an 8-1 lead, essentially ending the set quickly.

Huron managed to get within six points mid-game, at 14-8, but Harrisburg regrouped, as Kennedy Kokenge had two aces and a kill down the stretch to take the 25-13 win.

Huron leapt out to a 4-1 lead in set three, as Heinz notched another ace, while both Mangmoradeth and Claggett added to their kill totals. But Leach touched off a 9-1 Harrisburg rally, aided by kills from Kokenge, Venenga and Kya Keegan put the visitors up 10-6. Aly Davis got kills on consecutive attacks for Huron, and with a Harrisburg error, the home team got within two points, 13-11.

After a Siemonsma kill down the line, however, Harrisburg ran six straight points, as Leach collected two kills and Lindsay Langner got an ace and Huron was never able to get closer than five points the rest of the way, dropping the 25-20 decision.

Needing a win to extend the match, Huron came out more focused in the fourth set, which remained close or tied until Leach got her 14th kill of the match, making the score 10-9 for the visitors. Her big swing set off a 9-0 Harrisburg rally and when the smoke cleared, the visitors were ahead 18-9 and Harrisburg served out the match for the win.

Leach ended with 17 kills and three aces, Stiff notched 10 kills, as did Kolenge, while Venenga added eight. Harrisburg’s offense is facilitated by eighth-grade setter Josalyn Samuels, on a roster that has no seniors.

Huron was led by Claggett’s 11 kills, while Mangmoradeth added six kills. Heinz had four aces and four kills in the match.

“We had the momentum after the first set and when we can serve receive and stay in system, we are at our best and can compete,” Ulmer said. “We’ll get back to work and clean up some areas, as we get ready for two road games next week.”

Huron travels to Aberdeen on Tuesday and Brookings on Thursday, then will play in the Pentagon volleyball classic on Saturday, against Class B power Warner.

Lower level action found Harrisburg winning the JV match 25-15, 25-9 and also sweeping the Sophomore match, 25-9 and 25-17.

Score by sets
Harrisburg      21 25 25 25
Huron             25 13 20 15