Pioneer stormed out to leads of 17-4 and 22-8 in game two and held on for a nine-point.
In game three the Panthers stormed back from a 17-11 deficit and had a chance to win it. Sarah Dorris made an extremely athletic save near the bleachers that led to a Kayte Miller kill that gave the Panthers a 23-21 lead. But they didn’t get the next serve in, and a Rochester ace, a carry and a hitting error later resulted in a Zebras win.
Rochester controlled most of game four and led 23-18 before Pioneer got back in it via three Rochester errors and kills by Maddie Kiser and Hannah Tevis to make it 23-24. But Towne came up with her final booming kill of the match to end it then.
The Panthers are utilizing a new offense this year and it was effective for the most part.
“We’re trying a new offense, we’re trying a triangle offense with a three-middle attack because we’ve got three bigs we want to get the ball to,” Nies said. “There’s a little bit of a learning curve, like on that first rotation there on the first set where we had a mixup with the libero going in for the middle. It’s a new offense, we’re trying something different that fits our personnel and we’re going to get better.
“I’ve got a left side [Dorris] going the opposite of a middle [Tevis], because I want to feature those two because those two can bring the heat.
“It’s going to take some time.”
The Panthers compete at the Marquette Invite in Michigan City on Saturday.
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or email@example.com.