If the Yankton volleyball team could have bottled up how it played for the first half of the opening set on Tuesday night, it surely would have.

Ultimately, however, it didn’t last.

Third-ranked Sioux Falls Washington closed that first set strong and then dominated the final two in a 25-19, 25-10, 25-12 sweep of the Gazelles at the Yankton High School gym.

“We watched them enough to know what to expect coming in, and we told the girls to play with intention and have fun,” Yankton head coach Shanna Koenig said.

The Gazelles — now 0-9 on the season — got to within 16-15 in the opening set, but Washington (6-2) surged to the finish.

“We came out confident, and there was energy,” Koenig said. “Our goal was to decrease our unforced errors.”

Ultimately, though, Yankton committed nine serving errors in the match.

“That comes with lack of confidence,” Koenig said. “It’s what’s between the ears that beat us. We didn’t trust each other or our training.”

Washington 14 kills and three blocks from 6-foot-4 middle hitter Phekran Kong, and seven kills from sophomore Ellie Walker. Senior Gabby Reck recorded 23 digs and senior Morgan Bischoff notched 31 set assists.

The Gazelles, meanwhile, got five kills and two ace serves from senior Carissa Salvatori, as well as four kills and 12 digs from senior Gabby Pietila. Junior Halle Stephenson posted seven set assists, while senior Alyson Johnson had four set assists and 10 digs. Senior Ivy Mines also had 12 digs on defense.

Yankton will visit Brandon Valley on Thursday.

“We’re still learning how to be a team,” Koenig said. “We have to learn that we can’t hold on to mistakes and let them become two or three. You have to let them go.”

In sub-varsity action Tuesday, Washington won the JV match 25-19, 25-19. Yankton got five kills from Britta Pietila, while Jordynn Salvatori and Ella Mulder had four kills, and Stephenson recorded nine set assists.

Washington won the sophomore match 29-27, 22-25, 15-9. For the Gazelles, Molly Savey had three kills and eight digs, while Emily Reinhardt had 15 digs, Jaidyn Wishon had 12 digs and Taryn Fitzgerald notched four ace serves.

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