Amidst a sea of pink decorations in Simmons Gym, Monday night's Dig for the Cure varsity volleyball game between Litchfield and Lincolnwood began with a poignant remembrance of two of Litchfield's most dedicated community servants, Alicia Grosenheider, who lost her courageous battle against breast cancer last year, and Martha Sperry who passed last week.
Mrs. Grosenheider was a member of the Montgomery County Cancer Association and helped to establish the Montgomery County Breast Cancer Support Group. Mrs. Sperry lent her time and efforts to numerous volunteer and fundraising events including the Montgomery County Cancer Association.
Upon recognition of the two women, emcee Robin Morgan invited all breast cancer survivors in attendance to come down to the gym floor where each gave their name and told how long they had been cancer survivors, which ranged from a few months to over 15 years.
The evening began with an exhibition of future volleyball players as youngsters clad in pink T-shirts showcased their newly learned volleyball skills much to the delight of a large crowd of proud parents and family members while the outer hallway was filled with baked goods and commemorative T-shirts for sale with the proceeds earmarked for the Montgomery County Cancer Association.
The young players were from clinics held by both teams for students in kindergarten through fifth grade on Sept. 28.
"We taught them the basics of playing volleyball and ran them through several drills (passing, setting and serving)," said Litchfield Coach Jeremy Heigert. "We also helped them understand what each player's role is on the court and demonstrated those. We had 50 students register this year and it was truly an inspiring day to watch our players instill their love and passion for the game in our future LHS volleyball players."
Both volleyball teams were clad in pink uniform tops to accentuate the theme of the evening and the effort by both teams could not have exemplified the theme more so as each had to "dig" deep within their arsenal of talent and stamina in their quest for the match win.
It was a spinetingler played in a hot, steamy Simmons Gymnasium that would encompass over two hours and it was the Lady Panthers who would be the last team standing as they upended the Lancers 24-26, 26-24, 26-24.
Coach Jeremy Heigert's varsity squad would draw the first point in the initial set but it would be the only lead they would hold as Lincolnwood built leads of 5-1, 8-4, 15-9 and 17-12 before the Panthers battled back to tie the game at 18. Lincolnwood again seized the upper hand and at 24-21, but a serve in the net returned the pink and white volleyball back to the hosts with the scoreboard reading 24-22, Lincolnwood.
Litchfield picked up point 23 on a Lancer misfire that spurred a quick timeout by Coach Kimberly Denney. Litchfield knotted the score at 24 on a Lancer attack that found the net antenna but junior Cassie Krager ended the Panther possession with a timely kill with authority. Avery Pope served out the first set after a Panther return error.
Litchfield would capture an early 3-2 lead in the second set but it was erased and reversed as the Lancers outscored Litchfield 9-4 and held a 12-6 lead that would be added to. Trailing 22-18, the Panthers began to chip away and collected point 19 on an out of bounds hit by the Lancers that also relinquished the serve.
With senior Jordan Morgan at the service line, sophomore Cara Pence would come up big with a convincing kill that knotted the score at 22. Cassie Krager answered the call for the orange and black with a kill and it was the Lancers' turn to serve out the match leading 23-22, but the opportunity evaporated on a missed spike that did not find its mark and it was 23-23. A Lancer dink over the defense captured point 24 but a four hit call on the next possession returned the ball to Litchfield, with the score tied at 24.
Senior Devan Morgan's deep serve in the far corner was not returned by the Lancers and junior Becky Painter's soft dink over the Lancer defense fell to the floor for point 26.
Litchfield won the serve for the deciding set and the battle was on as both teams scrapped to establish a substantial lead. After the score was tied at three, it was Lincolnwood who grabbed the early lead and held on until Litchfield would tie at 17, but would lose possession on a return into the net. A Panther net foul and a well placed dink garnered points 18 and 19 for the Lancers but the all important possession would change courts again for both teams and Lincolnwood led 21-18.
A four hit call against the Lancers and an out of bounds spike quickly added two points to the Litchfield cause and Coach Denney called for a timeout.
The score tied at 21 on an out of bounds Lancers' spike, followed by a hit into the net and return error that boosted Litchfield to within one point of a match win, but Litchfield's next attack found the net and returned the ball to Lincolnwood.
With Lincolnwood trailing 24-22, Litchfield drew the four hit call and could not return the ensuing serve by Cassie Krager and the Lancers knotted the score at 24. The Lancer threat ended with an attack that sailed out of bounds and Litchfield closed out an exciting match with Devan Morgan at the service line.
Junior Cara Pence would grab scoring honors for Litchfield with 14 service points, followed closely by Jordan Morgan and Emily Senjan each with 11 points. Pence would also put down five kills and put up three blocks. Senior Devan Morgan had 24 digs in the match and six assists. Junior Becky Painter recorded five kills, 13 digs and a block in addition to nine service points.
For the Lancers, junior Maggie McClelland had 18 service points, four aces, seven kills, a block and 19 digs. Lexie Millburg led the team in digs with 22 and had five service points, including an ace. Sidney Glick and Avery Pope each had five service points. Pope also had 14 assists and two blocks. Leading the team in kills were Cassie Krager and Katelyn Payne, each with 13.
Litchfield will hit the road to play Staunton on Thursday, Oct. 3, while Lincolnwood will be at the Morrisonville tournament for their next action, with games at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.
September 30 at Litchfield
Lincolnwood 26 24 24
Litchfield 24 26 26
Service Points: Maggie McClelland 18, Avery Pope 5, Lexie Millburg 5, Sidney Glick 5, Cassie Krager 3, Kyra Shull 3. Aces: Maggie McClelland 4, Cassie Krager 2, Sidney Glick. 2, Kyra Shull 1, Avery Pope 1, Lexie Millburg 1. Kills: Cassie Krager 13, Katelyn Payne 13, Maggie. McClelland 7, Madison Krager 4, Avery Pope. 2. Assists: Avery Pope 14, Cassie Krager 5, Emme Weller 1. Blocks: Avery Pope 2, Katelyn Payne 2, Madison Krager 1, Maggie McClelland 1. Digs: Lexie Millburg 22, Maggie McClelland 19, Cassie Krager 17, Sidney Glick 13, Avery Pope 9, Madison Krager 5, Katelyn Payne 3, Emme Weller 1.
Service Points: Cara Pence 14, Emily Senjan 11, Jordan Morgan 11, Becky Painter 9, Devan Morgan 9, Mallory Beechler 5. Aces: Becky Painter 1, Emily Senjan 1. Kills: Cara Pence 5, Becky Painter 5, Jordan Morgan 3, Mallory Beechle 2, Emily Senjan 1. Assists: Devan Morgan 6, Mallory Beechler 1. Blocks: Cara Pence 3, Emily Senjan 2, Jordan Morgan 1, Becky Painter 1. Digs: Devan Morgan 24, Becky Painter 13, Jordan Morgan 10, Carson Jackon 9, Mallory Beechler 6, Kate Komor 5, Emily Senjan 4, Jordan Minkevich 2, Cara Pence 1.
Records: Lincolnwood (14-5); Litchfield (5-11).