ROYAL CENTER — Pioneer’s volleyball team has certainly held its own against Logansport in recent years.
The Panthers were back at it again Tuesday night, turning back the Berries with a 25-15, 25-22, 13-25, 25-21 win.
“I thought this was a match that both teams needed to win just to get some momentum going into the rest of the season,” Pioneer coach Rod Nies said. “We’ve both expressed how much our teams have been struggling here, just finishing games. It was good to see our girls come out and finish games.”
After winning the first set with relative ease, the Panthers won game two with the help of some Logan errors after the Berries had tied the match at 22-all.
The third set was all Logan, but Pioneer quickly recovered to win game four.
Pioneer led most of the way in the fourth set and built up a 20-16 lead. The Berries answered and with the help of a service error and two straight kills by Sydney Bullard they got back to within 20-19, causing Nies to call a timeout.
After the break, Sarah Dorris made a perfect pass on a serve by Katie Easter, got the set back and came up with a big kill to make it 21-19 Pioneer. Following a carry by Logansport, Kayte Miller came up with two straight kills to make it 24-19. A Monika Ness kill and net violation by Pioneer got Logan to within 24-21 before Lyndsey Stewart ended the match with a kill, her seventh of the match.
Dorris finished with 13 kills, 20 digs and three aces to lead the Panthers (3-3).
“It’s really awesome because they’re so big and we’re such a small school,” said Dorris, as Logan has about four times the enrollment of Pioneer.
The Panthers looked like a different team from the last time they played in Royal Center two weeks earlier in the season opener against Rochester.
“We played a lot better tonight,” Dorris said. “Rochester was first-game jitters, I think. Today we were ready to play.
“We had all last week off so we just practiced really hard.”
As for the keys to the match, Dorris said, “Just staying positive and not getting down and just keeping our serves in and our serve receive, for sure.”
Hannah Tevis added nine kills and an ace for Pioneer. Megan Smith had 23 digs and Miller had 20 digs, three kills and three aces.
Riley Morris dished 21 assists and Shelby Roller had 17 assists and four digs. Jessica Lawrence chipped in three kills and Maddie Kiser added two kills and a block.
Bullard led the Berries (2-2) with 16 kills and nine digs. Karlee Vernon had nine kills, four digs and two aces.
Ness and Nakeya Penny each had six kills and a block. Lindsey Cheney collected 22 digs. Easter added six digs and two aces. Kailey Vernon added five digs and Penny had four. Hannah Jones dished 24 assists and Bailey Kelley added 16.
“I thought Pioneer did a really good job of getting us out of system, especially in game one and closing out game two,” Logan coach Jon Vernon said. “Rod did a good job of getting his girls ready to play. We weren’t ready to play tonight. We weren’t ready to play from the very beginning.
“They run the triangle offense and they got us with a lot of tips. It’s hard to cover when you haven’t seen them play. I had Parent’s Night the night they played.
“The third game we came back and did some good things and played better defense on the tips. We came up short in the fourth game and that’s a credit to Rod.”
The Berries certainly expect to be top contenders for their Class 4A sectional title and with the win, the Panthers are certainly looking to be a top contender in Class A again this season.
“I expect that every year out of my girls,” Nies said. “I don’t want to have a down year and say hey, ‘we’ve got to reload.’ I expect us with our feeder system and the talent we’ve got coming up here, I expect us to contend every year. We may not ever win a state title, but by golly we’re going to be pretty doggone good.”
The Panthers host Knox tonight, while the Berries host the Logan Classic on Saturday.
The Classic starts at 9 a.m. with Logan playing Knox and then Crown Point and South Bend Washington in pool play.
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.