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Golden Eagles fall to Pierre

Aberdeen Central’s Madi Struble, center, tries to tip the ball at the net as Pierre’s Ayvrie Kaiser, left and Reese Terwilliger, right, defend during Tuesday night’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 10/5/2021

On paper it appears nothing changed.

Aberdeen Central was swept again by Pierre, marking the Golden Eagles sixth straight setback. But this one felt different.

Central battled the fifth-rated Governors right to the end before succumbing 25-17, 25-20, 25-22 in the Eastern South Dakota Conference match at Golden Eagles Arena Tuesday night.

“Our kids, I thought, battled a lot better than we have in some recent matches,” said Central coach Jackie Bindenagel. “I am not one for moral victories, but I feel like this one was a little bit because the past few matches we were just on like this skid. We just couldn’t make plays. We couldn’t recover if we got down. Our kids showed a lot of grit tonight.”

In fact, about the only difference in the three sets were mini-surges of five or six points in a row at crucial times that put Pierre over the top.

The first one came in the opening set with the Governors leading 17-16. The visitors scored five straight points to take control of that set.

The surge came even later in the second set. The match was tied at 19-19 before Pierre closed out the set on a 6-1 run to secure a two-set advantage.

Finally, Pierre saved its best for last at the end of the third, wiping out a 20-19 deficit and finishing off the Eagles with a 6-2 flourish capped off by the 17th and final kill of the night by Ayvrie Kaiser.

“She’s got 17 kills. She’s one of the best hitters in the state for a reason,” Bindenagel said. “I thought Abby Berry put herself in a pretty good position right in front of her and she just is so strong.”

Still, the Eagles were right there in every set of the match.

“I think everyone did really good today,” said Central senior Kiana Mounga. “I think everyone stepped it up and I’m happy with how we played.”

Mounga had a big night for Central. She finished with four kills, a pair of ace serves, 15 digs and 3 solo blocks.

She did some damage from the backrow with her powerful serves.

“I just toss it high, hit it hard,” Mounga said. “Hopefully, it stays in.”

Unlike some players who use jump serves or stand motionless when they serve, Mounga tosses the ball up and hammers it with major force.

“In other years my serves were just absolute crap,” Mounga said. “Then as soon as I figured it out, just toss it a lot farther out rather than right above you and just swing with everything you’ve got, you should be good.”

Mounga was one of many Eagles who got their money’s worth from the service line.

“I thought we served pretty aggressive,” Bindenagel said. “They were out of system a fair amount on serve receive.”

Grace Kuch led the squad with nine kills and Karly Wellman had seven.

Sydney Evans led the backrow with 23 digs.

Central, 5-8 on the season, plays in a tournament in Fargo, N.D. on Friday and Saturday.

“We are in a pool with teams that are very similar to us,” Bindenagel said. “We’re pretty excited to go up there.”

Serving: Aberdeen Central 3 aces (Kiana Mounga 2, Sydney Evans 1).

Hitting: Aberdeen Central 32 kills (Grace Kuch 9, Karly Wellman 7, Leah Gough 5, Mounga 4).

Setting: Aberdeen Central 22 assists (Abby Berry 22).

Digs: Aberdeen Central 67 (Evans 23, Anna Malchow 15, Meghan Mork 9, Berry 7).

Blocks: Aberdeen Central 4 solos 4 assists (Mounga 3 solos, Wellman 1 solo 1 assist, Madi Struble 2 assists, Kuch 1 assist).

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