BROOKINGS – For two sets in Tuesday’s Eastern South Dakota Conference volleyball showdown between the Bobcats and Harrisburg, it was tough to tell which team was undefeated and which team had only one win.
Brookings won the first set, 25-23, but came up short in Set 2, 25-22.
After that, the Tigers powered to a 25-13 win in the third set, and then, closed out the match with a 25-17 triumph in Set 4 to improve to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the ESD.
“We take Set 1; we play tough in Set 2; and then, errors caught up to us – we had nine errors in Set 3, between serving and hitting – and we just couldn’t find our rhythm again in Sets 3 and 4,” said BHS head coach Jodi Melius. “We proved in Sets 1 and 2 what we are capable of but we weren’t able to sustain that for an entire match and that’s the difference in experience – Harrisburg is the defending state champions – they’re maybe not used to having to battle back, but they are used to marathon matches and believing in themselves.
“We haven’t gotten to that point yet where we are believing in ourselves through the entire match.”
Despite trailing by four points twice early in the first set, Brookings battled back to go up by a point at 11-10 following an ace serve by Kylie Tucker.
The Tigers evened the set at 11-11 before the teams traded points to make it 12-12.
From there, a kill by Grace Eggebrecht started a 7-0 Bobcat run, which was capped off by an Alli Gordon ace.
Brookings extended its lead to eight points following a double block by Tucker and Michaela Jewett to make it 21-13.
A kill by Jewett gave Brookings a 23-15 lead before the Tigers responded with eight straight points to tie the set at 23-all.
A Tucker kill gave the ‘Cats set point, 24-23, and then, Annika Johnson stepped to the service line and served up an ace for the final point.
Brookings led 9-5 in the second set following another Johnson ace and the Bobcats still led 15-14 before Harrisburg put together a six-point run to take a 20-15 edge.
Emma Hardin’s kill started a 6-1 Bobcat run as Tucker notched a pair of aces and Johnson garnered a kill before Eggebrecht tied the set at 21-21 with a kill.
But a service error, combined with a hitting miscue and a defensive error gave the Tigers set point.
Another Eggebrecht kill made it 24-22 and gave the ‘Cats what turned out to be just a brief reprieve when another defensive error handed Set 2 to Harrisburg, 25-22.
Brookings led 4-3 early in Set 3 and trailed by just a point at 6-5 before the Tigers took control with a five-point run.
Another Johnson service ace pulled the Bobcats within 17-13, but that was the last point the home team scored as Harrisburg went on an 8-0 run to go up 2-1 in sets.
In the fourth set, the Tigers led by as many as seven points – 10-3 – early, before Brookings battled back to within two at 15-13.
But four defensive errors and a hitting error by the Bobcats allowed the visitors to build a 20-13 lead and the home team never got closer than six points the rest of the way as Harrisburg closed the match with a 25-17 set win.
Eggebrecht and Johnson led the Bobcat attack with 12 kills apiece as Tucker added four while Jewett tallied 32 set assists, to go along with a solo block and two block assists on the night.
Megan Gilk finished with 23 digs; Hardin chipped in with 14; and Gordon contributed 13 as Tucker and Johnson notched three service aces apiece.
For Harrisburg, Carlie Fikse had 19 kills and Madison Wassink had 11 as Avery Thorson finished with 40 set assists. Ashlee Cain (26) and Rachel Nelson (23) combined for 49 digs.
Brookings, 1-3 on the season and in conference play, play host to O’Gorman on Thursday.
Junior Varsity – Harrisburg 25-18, 25-19
Sophomore – Brookings 25-16, 23-25, 15-6
Freshman A – Harrisburg 25-18, 25-21
Freshman B – Harrisburg 25-19, 25-13