ROYAL CENTER — The Pioneer Lady Panthers began shooting for their eighth consecutive volleyball sectional championship on Thursday night when they easily disposed of Tri-County in three games. When they resumed play on Saturday in Royal Center the Panthers picked up where they left off.
In a semifinal matchup against the Rebels of South Newton, the Panthers easily ended the Rebels season, 25-12, 25-9, 25-21, earning them the right to defend their crown from a year ago.
In the championship game against a stubborn North White team, the Panthers went to work and controlled nearly every part of the game in cruising to an eighth straight sectional crown by defeating the Vikings in three sets, 25-17, 25-16, 25-10.
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to play well because we had everything to lose and the other teams didn’t,” senior libero Megan Smith said. “We’d played each team before and they played us really tough. We tried really hard to stay focused against them and I think we did. It’s pretty neat winning this for the eighth year in a row and going on to regionals. I tore my ACL last year and didn’t get to be a part of it so I’m really looking forward to this.”
Pioneer (26-9) will travel to Washington Township for a regional match on Tuesday.
When Pioneer began its match with North White (24-9), the Panthers looked a bit lethargic on offense. They found themselves down 6-1 before things started to click for them.
Once Pioneer got things going it didn’t take them long to take control of the match. Eight unanswered points by the Panthers forced North White into one of their many timeouts during the match. With Pioneer controlling the ball, showing patience on offense and passing the ball well, North White fell in game one 25-17 with PHS sophomore Kelsey Hill serving out the last five points of the game.