Pioneer and Caston opened up sectional play in volleyball Thursday night in Royal Center with mixed results.
The Lady Panthers opened things up in the first match by downing Tri-County in three sets 25-16, 25-4, 25-10. In the second match Caston played tough and battled all the way through but fell to South Newton by the score of 24-26, 25-19, 25-19, 25-16.
Class A No. 7 Pioneer (24-9) will face South Newton (18-13) at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Though Pioneer easily dispatched the Cavaliers in the opening match, the Panthers’ offense seemed as if they could not find their rhythm during the first game. Thanks to the defensive net play of Hannah Tevis, Lyndsey Stewart and Sarah Dorris, the Lady Panthers fed off them and got the offense rolling in turning away the Cavs.
Riley Morris returned to the Panther lineup and was a big spark for her squad in the second set. With the score at 14-2 and Pioneer already in control, Morris started serving and held serve until it was 22-2 before sailing one out of bounds.
“The past couple of games that we played we had a lot of mental mistakes and didn’t look very sharp,” Pioneer coach Rod Nies said. “Our goal tonight was to have good ball control and try to really take it to them. We’re just working on a few things to maintain our skills and just working to keep getting better to see how far it can take us.”
On the night Morris led the Panthers with 15 assists, four aces, three digs and 22 service points. Also for Pioneer, Dorris ended with six aces, 20 digs, one block and 12 service points. Megan Smith finished up with four aces, 12 digs and 13 points. Tevis had 13 kills and seven blocks while Stewart ended with seven kills and five blocks. Senior Kayte Miller ended with 10 digs for the Lady Panthers.
“The first game I think we just had the jitters but we were able to pull it together. Fortunately, we kept at it and were able to put them away,” said Tevis.T
hough the outcome was not what Caston coach Taylor McFarland was hoping for, the Comet mentor had to have been pleased with the performance of her squad. The Lady Comets bowed out of tournament play in four games against the Rebels of South Newton but it was a battle. The Comets fought from the outset of game one until the final point of game four. Unfortunately for the Comets, they just didn’t have the size up front to contest the Rebel hitters.
In game one the Comets found themselves down 18-13 at one point but battled back to tie things up at 20-20 before going on to win it 26-24.South Newton then started using its size up front and the disadvantage was just too much for the Comets to overcome. The Rebels then went on to win the next three sets to move on in the tournament.
Leading the Caston attack was Erin Connolly with 26 assists and 13 digs. Mickayla Rans ended with nine kills and two aces. Jacqueline Rans had eight kills and four blocks while Haley Hoover had 10 kills and 16 digs. Madison Martin and Tori Rentschler each finished with 12 digs. Haley Small added three blocks of her own.
“I’m pleased that the girls were able to come in and take a game,” McFarland said. “From what I understand it’s usually been a three-and-out kind of thing. I’m happy that we were able to come in and take that first game even though we didn’t have what it takes during the other three games. I’m proud of the girls though, they worked their butts off tonight. Not just tonight, but all season they’ve worked. I just can’t fault their effort.”
North White (23-8) faces West Central in the later semifinal on Saturday. The final is at 4 p.m. Saturday.
- Rick Conrad
North Miami Sectional
Cass (10-18) lost to Class 2A, No. 7-ranked Southwood 25-13, 25-15, 25-17 in the opening round of the sectional.It was the fourth straight year that Cass drew Southwood, and Cass coach Gretchen Crum knew it was going to be a battle against the Knights.
“[Southwood] has several weapons,” Crum said. “They were much taller than us, and hit over the top of us all evening. They served with a lot of pace and placement. At one point in the second set, it was 9-9 and all of a sudden it’s 16-9 [in favor of Southwood]. They scored in bunches, and we didn’t have an answer for that.”
Crum challenged her team in the beginning to see if it lit a fire.
“We played with our usual heart once we overcame our nerves in the first match,” Crum added. “We said we were going to play hard and enjoy our last few matches together and we did. I am so grateful for the leadership of the three seniors Kassi Zeck, Claire Crum and Gabi Hartley. Those three love playing and competing together and we will miss them a great deal. The underclassmen have gained a lot of good experience this season that will be valuable for next year. These girls were so easy to coach and were very team oriented. Parents, staff and students attended matches and cheered for us all season long.”
Gabi Hartley led with 15 assists. Zeck added 13 digs. Tori Powell contributed with seven kills and four digs. Claire Crum followed with three kills and three digs. Bailey Gremelspacher totaled four assists and three digs. Trish Hartley came up with six kills, and Aubrey Young added two kills.
North Judson Sectional
Winamac was surprised by host North Judson in three games, 27-25, 25-22, 25-15, in a Class 2A sectional.
The fourth time was the charm for the Bluejays after three losses to the Warriors in the regular season. Winamac finishes 18-15.
“This was a very disappointing for us tonight,” Winamac coach Cathy DeFries said. “We just couldn’t put balls into play tonight. We had way too many errors that cost us. We will definitely miss Bethany Brogdon and appreciate her hard work and effort.”
Brogdon entered ranked sixth in the state in digs and finished with 21 in the contest. Ashley Eichelberger had 16 digs to go with a team-high nine kills.
Taylor Jones had 16 assists and six kills, and Lexi Hanson added 11 assists. Dakota Heims chipped in three blocks.
Jamie Wajda and Caitlin Dvorscak had nine kills apiece to lead the Jays. Leah White set 53 assists. Carrigan Baxter had 18 digs. Tristan Fletcher added three aces.