"State Tournament Fever" gripped Hillsboro a few weeks ago when the Lady Toppers made their postseason run to a fourth place finish in the IHSA Girls Basketball State Finals, but now the epidemic has spread to other parts of Montgomery County.
On Monday, March 4, the Lincolnwood Junior High seventh grade volleyball team advanced to the Class 2A IESA State Finals with a two set win over Hardin Calhoun in the sectional at Nokomis.
After back-to-back three set wins over Springfield parochial schools Blessed Sacrament and Christ the King to make it to the sectional, the Lady Knights rolled past Calhoun in the opening set by a 25-12 final score. For the encore, the Lincolnwood girls took another big win, beating the Warriors 25-16 to move on to the state tournament.
This year's seventh grade Class 2A IESA State Finals will be in familiar territory for the Lady Knights as the orange and black invade the home floor of their rivals, the Pawnee Indians.
Lincolnwood's first opponent will be Effingham St. Anthony, who improved to 17-7 with a 25-13, 19-25, 25-14 win over Louisville North Clay at the Paris Crestwood Sectional. The game will begin at 5:45 p.m., after the state opener between Villa Grove and Lewistown. The winners of those two games advance to the semifinals on Saturday, March 9, at 11 a.m.
The Lady Knights' record is 23-5 going into the game, with one of their losses coming to fellow Class 2A state qualifier Mt. Pulaski, who plays Kewanee Wethersfield at 8:15 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game between the Honeybears and the Flying Geese will play the winner of Friday's 7 p.m. game between Mendon Unity and Milford in the semifinals on Saturday, March 9, at 12:15 p.m.
The first and third place matches will be held Saturday afternoon, with the third place match first at 2 p.m., followed by the IESA state championship at 3:15 p.m.
Seventh Grade Volleyball
Nokomis nearly met up with Lincolnwood in the Class 2A seventh grade regional, nearly upsetting the top seed, Springfield Christ the King.
After dispatching fourth seeded Mt. Olive 25-7, 25-17, the Lady Braves gave Christ the King all they wanted in the regional semifinal in Raymond on Feb. 26, before falling 12-25, 25-21, 25-15.
Hillsboro and Litchfield would also fall at the regional level, with both teams playing on the Lady Dragons' home court in Hillsboro.
Litchfield fell to North Mac in a dramatic 19-25, 25-18, 25-21 three-set thriller that would have been the upset of the tournament if the seventh seeded Panther Cubs could have knocked off the second seeded Panthers.
The top seed from Hillsboro, unfortunately, found themselves on the other side of an upset as they fell to fourth seeded Vandalia 25-19, 12-25, 27-25 in the semifinal on Feb. 26, to end their season.
Eighth Grade Volleyball
While the seventh graders are preparing for state, the eighth grade teams are knee deep in the first round of the postseason, with three Montgomery County teams still alive going into Wednesday, March 6. Unfortunately for some, only one remained in contention by the end of the evening.
The Nokomis Lady Braves and Lincolnwood Lady Knights started the postseason at the Nokomis Regional on opposite ends of the bracket, but wins brought the two neighbors together for the championship game.
Nokomis, the third seed, beat sixth seeded Pawnee 25-11, 25-4 in their first game, then beat second seeded Springfield Blessed Sacrament 25-18, 14-25, 25-19 in the semifinals to move on to the title game.
Lincolnwood, the top seed in Nokomis, beat Springfield Christ the King 25-16, 25-12 in the semifinals to earn their title shot, after getting a bye in the first round.
The two teams played earlier in the season, with Lincolnwood scoring a 25-11, 25-23 victory over Nokomis. The Lady Knights would manage another win on their rivals' home floor, beating the Braves 25-13, 25-15 to advance to the Pawnee Sectional on March 11, where they will face either Carrollton or Triopia.
In Class 3A, both Hillsboro and Litchfield were at the North Mac Regional in Girard. The Lady Dragons, the fourth seed, picked up a 25-20, 25-14 win over Carlinville to advance to the semifinal against top seeded Pana on Wednesday, while the seventh seeded Lady Panthers fell to second seeded North Mac 25-6, 25-10 to end their season. Unfortunately, Pana would end the Lady Dragons' season with a 25-14, 25-13 victory on Wednesday.