Friday the 13th was not a good day for the Litchfield Lady Panthers, having gone 0-3 in preliminary matches of the Grace Tournament, but Monday the 16th had a hint of "magic" to it as the Panthers and Morrisonville went toe-to-toe in a rematch on the home court of the Panthers.
Having lost 27-25, 25-20 to Morrisonville on Sept. 13, in tournament pool play, the Panthers took the first set of the non-conference match-up by a score of 25-23, but Morrisonville stormed back and claimed set two 25-21 to send the game into the decisive third set, a period in which the purple and white would fire on all cylinders and play some of their best team volleyball of the season.
Morrisonville's Kara Austin would serve first in the third set, but possession was quickly returned to the Panthers and the next ten minutes of play was dominated by the hosts as they bumped, set, spiked, dinked, blocked and dug their way to a 14-0 lead with senior Devan Morgan, the team's leading point getter at the service line.
Litchfield's point surge was led by Becky Painter who had two kills and a stuff block, while Cara Pence and Emily Senjan put down two kills each and Mallory Beechler had one.
Although the Mohawks barked back and tried to climb back into the set, the deficit was too much to erase and Litchfield closed out the match with a decisive 25-13 decision.
Coach Jeremy Heigert got contributions up and down the lineup and on both sides of the ball from Devan Morgan, Aly Fenton, Emily Senjan, Becky Painter, Carson Jackson, Mallory Beechler, Cara Pence and Kate Komor.
Senior Devan Morgan finished the game with 18 service points and three aces, 11 digs and 14 assists while Becky Painter had eight service points and three aces, seven kills, two blocks and four digs.
Coming off the bench, Aly Fenton had eight service points, one ace, seven digs and two assists. Emily Senjan's prowess at the net kept the Mokawks on notice and Kate Komor's 17 digs led the defense. Mallory Beechler recorded five points and one ace while contributing 11 defensive digs.
The junior varsity match also went three with Litchfield grabbing the first set 25-22 but dropping the next two 25-16 and 15-6.
September 16 at Litchfield
Litchfield 25 21 25
Morrisonville 23 25 13
Service Points: Devan Morgan 18, Aly Fenton 8, Becky Painter 8, Mallory Beechler 5, Cara Pence 4, Carson Jackson 3. Aces: Devan Morgan. 3, Becky Painter 3, Aly Fenton 1. Kills: Becky Painter 7, Cara Pence 6, Aly Fenton 1, Carson Jackson 1, Mallory Beechler 1. Assists: Devan Morgan. 14, Aly Fenton 2. Digs: Kate Komor 17, Devan Morgan 11, Mallory Beechler 11, Aly Fenton 7, Becky Painter 4, Cara Pence 4, Carson Jackson 2. Blocks: Becky Painter 2, Cara Pence 1.
Service Points: Mackenzie Harmon 10, Jhia Walker 7, Ali Harris 6, Tessa Funderburk 5, Hailee Belsher 4, Kara Austin 2, Lauren Tapia 1. Aces: Mackenzie Harmon 3, Ali Harris 1, Hailee Belsher 1, Tessa Funderburk 1, Kara Austin 1. Kills: Hailee Belsher 14, Ali Harris 6, Mackenzie Harmon 4, Jhia Walker 1. Assists: Kara Austin 7, Lauren Tapia 1. Digs: Mackenzie Harmon 19, Hailee Belsher 17, Whitney Lipe 8, Jhia Walker 3, Tessa Funderburk 2, Kara Austin 2, Bella Tyron. 2, Ali Harris 1. Blocks: Hailee Belsher 5, Ali Harris 3.
The Gillespie Miners upended the Litchfield Panthers 25-21, 28-26 last Thursday, Sept. 19, to claim their second conference win of the season in a closely contested match. Coach Celia Jubelts' Miners join Carlinville and Pana at the top of the South Central Conference with a perfect 2-0 record.
Neither team was able to establish a substantial lead in the first set but Emily Senjan gave Litchfield a 9-5 edge on a downed spike. Gillespie's MacKenzy Mix, hitting from the middle, would draw the score to 9-8, but Litchfield went on a mini run that started with a kill from Jordan Morgan and the Panther lead climbed to 14-8 lead before a side out on an out of bounds serve.
It was Gillespie's turn to reel off points and cut into the Panther lead as they tied the scored at 14. A dink over Litchfield's front row blockers by Sydney Bires gave Gillespie a 16-14 lead and it was a tussle for points down the stretch.
With the score tied at 20, Litchfield took a 21-20 lead that started with a good dig by Kate Komor and a four-hit call against the Miners. A Litchfield spike that sailed out of bounds knotted the score at 21 and the next four points belonged to the Miners as they closed out the first set win 25-21.
Litchfield served first in the second set and Becky Painter's block at the net gave the Panthers their first point and the tussle was on as the match took on the same characteristics as the first set with both teams trading points and neither able to gain enough of a lead that would allow them to breath easy. The score was tied at 13, 14, 15 and 19. Litchfield's Emily Senjan sealed point 20 with a kill and a side out.
With Mallory Beechler at the service line, the Panthers notched point 21 but Sydney Bires' spike off the Panther defenders gave the ball back to the Miners with the score 21-20, Litchfield. Deyon Wolber's serve was out of bounds and the all important possession went back to the hosts.
Litchfield gained point 23 with good net play. Trailing 23-20, it was time for Coach Jubelt to summon her team to the sidelines for a timeout and the Miners responded with a good block at the net.
After a serve by Gillespie's Iris Page that was too close to call and warranted a replay, Gillespie gained points 22 and 23 on out of bounds Panther spikes. The two teams would tie at 24 after a Gillespie spike sailed out of bounds.
Emily Senjan's serve found its way to the Miners' court but the Panthers could not keep the return within the boundary lines and Gillespie led 25-24. A net foul against the Miners returned the serve to Litchfield and point 26 came off a Miner spike that landed out of bounds. A Gillespie tip over the Panther defense again tied the score at 26 and a second tip garnered point 27. Gillespie scored the winning match point with Madison Niemeyer at the service line.
The junior Miners took the preliminary match in two sets, 25-10, 25-10.
The Panthers have a busy week that begins with road games at Metro-East Lutheran and Vandalia today and tomorrow before returning home on Thursday, Sept. 26, to host Southwestern.
September 19 at Litchfield
Gillespie 25 28
Litchfield 21 26
Service Points: Devan Morgan 8, Jordan Morgan 7, Mallory Beechler 7, Becky Painter 5, Carson Jackson 5, Emily Senjan 3, Aly Fenton 1. Aces: Devan Morgan 3, Becky Painter 1, Mallory Beechler 1. Kills: Emily Senjan 3, Jordan Morgan 2, Mallory Beechler 2. Blocks: Becky Painter 2, Emily Senjan 1. Digs: Devan Morgan 10, Kate Komor 8, Jordan Morgan 7, Becky Painter 6, Carson Jackson 5, Mallory Beechler 3, Cara Pence 2, Emily Senjan 1.
Service Points: Iris Page 11, Sydney Bires 7, MacKenzy Mix 7, Madison Niemeyer 6, Emily Schmidt 1. Aces: Madison Niemeyer 1, MacKenzy Mix 1, Emily Schmidt 1. Kills: MacKenzy Mix 8, Sydney Bires 5, Madison Niemeyer 2, Emily Schmidt 2. Assists: Madison Niemeyer 5, Deyon Wolber 5, Sydney Bires 1, Iris Page 1. Blocks: Madison Niemeyer 1, MacKenzy Mix 1, Emily Schmidt 1. Digs: MacKenzy Mix 11, Madison Niemeyer 9, Sydney Bires 9, Iris Page 9, Deyon Wolber 8, Emily Schmidt 3.