While they put up a good fight, the third time wasn't the charm for the Litchfield Panthers as they fell to Hillsboro on Monday, Oct. 22, at the Hillsboro Regional quarterfinal.
After falling to the Lady Hiltoppers fairly convincingly on Aug. 30 and Oct. 17, Litchfield had their best showing against Hillsboro of the season before the host school held on for a 25-20, 25-22 victory.
In game one, the two teams traded points to start the game, but Hillsboro picked up a three point lead, 11-8, after a Litchfield error and a kill by Haley Major.
The Panthers would tie the game at 13-13 when the Toppers' hits continued to sail out of bounds, but Kayli Ward helped spark a three point run from the service line to return the Hillsboro lead to 17-13.
Litchfield would get the advantage down to one at one point, but Hillsboro answered every attempt to come back and held on for the 25-20 win.
In game two, the Toppers would struggle from the service line, not getting a point from a serve until they had already rotated through all six positions, but Litchfield had their own struggles and only led 7-5 when Major served up the Toppers' first service point.
A Chloe Beck kill and a block by Kaci Papin would help Hillsboro take their first lead of the set a few moments later, but Litchfield kept pace with the Toppers, getting a kill by Jordan Morgan to tie the game at 9-9.
The Panthers would hold a brief lead at 12-11, but the game would be 14-13 in Hillsboro's favor when junior Emily Reynolds took over serving duties for the Toppers.
With a net call, a kill by Papin and two blocks by the Hillsboro freshman, the Toppers increased their lead by five. Two more Litchfield hits into the net gave Reynolds six of her team-high eight service points as they took a 20-13 advantage before Litchfield got the ball back.
The Panthers cut the lead down to three twice in the final moments of the game, and even had it at two momentarily, before Major got the final touch to send the ball over for Hillsboro's 25th point.
Despite the rivalry and the implications of elimination from the postseason, the game ended on a uplifting note. Becky Painter, who was one of the Panthers' biggest threats on the attack all night and all season, was injured on the final play of the game and was unable to walk through the handshake line.
One by one, the Toppers made their way over to Painter to check on the injury and congratulate her on a well played game.
Statistically, Hillsboro got six points from Ally Devore in addition to the eight from Reynolds, while Kayli Ward served up four aces. On the attack, Kaci Papin had six kills, while Ward had four. Jordan Jacobs and Reagan DeVashier dished out six assists apiece in the win.
Defensively, Reynolds was a force with 11 digs, while Major also came up big with nine digs. Papin and Ward added two blocks apiece as Hillsboro had seven blocks against the Litchfield hitters.
The Panthers were led on the serving line by Devan Morgan, with seven points, and the duo of Becky Painter and Carlee Ernst, who had six points each.
Painter also led the team in kills with six, while Jordan Morgan had five. Devan Morgan led the team in assists with eight.
Defensively, Kate Komor came up with 13 digs, while Devan Morgan and Lizzy Luttrell had six digs each.
With the win, Hillsboro improved to 18-13 on the season and moved on to Tuesday's regional semifinal, while Litchfield ended their campaign at 8-21.
October 22 at Hillsboro
Class 2A Hillsboro Regional
Hillsboro 25 25
Litchfield 20 22
Service Points: Emily Reynolds 8, Ally Devore 6, Haley Major 5, Kayli Ward 5, Jordan Jacobs 3, Chloe Beck 1. Aces: Kayli Ward 4, Emily Reynolds 2. Kills: Kaci Papin 6, Kayli Ward 4, Haley Major 3, Emily Reynolds 2, Chloe Beck 2. Assists: Jordan Jacobs 6, Reagan DeVaisher 6. Digs: Emily Reynolds 11, Haley Major 9, Jordan Jacobs 5, Ally Devore 4, Reagan DeVaisher 3, Chloe Beck 3, Paige Roemelin 2, Kayli Ward 1. Blocks: Kaci Papin 2, Kayli Ward 2, Haley Major 1, Emma Miller 1, Paige Roemelin 1.
Service Points: Devan Morgan 7, Becky Painter 6, Carlee Ernst 6, Jordan Morgan 4, Emily Senjan 4, Lizzy Luttrell 1. Aces: Emily Senjan 1, Becky Painter 1. Kills: Becky Painter 6, Jordan Morgan 5, Emily Senjan 2, Mallory Beechler 1. Assists: Devan Morgan 8, Lizzy Luttrell 1. Digs: Kate Komor 13, Devan Morgan 6, Lizzy Luttrell 6, Jordan Morgan 5, Carlee Ernst 2, Emily Senjan 2, Mallory Beechler 1.
Records: Hillsboro (18-13), Litchfield (8-21).
Class 2A Hillsboro Regional
Monday, October 22
Match: (8) Hillsboro def. (9) Litchfield 25-20, 25-22
Match 2: (5) Southwestern def. (11) Gillespie 27-25, 25-19
Tuesday, October 23
Match 3: (2) Greenville def. (8) Hillsboro 21-25, 25-19, 25-20
Match 4: (3) Staunton def. (5) Southwestern 25-14, 25-12
Thursday, October 25
Match 5 at 6 p.m.: (2) Greenville vs. (3) Staunton
*Winner of Thursday's regional championship game advances to the Red Bud Sectional.