Pawnee Sneaks Past Purple Panthers

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The Pawnee Indians downed Litchfield in a three-set nail biter that rivaled the energy of a boxing match as both teams threw their best punches and absorbed their opponents best shots before the Panthers would fall 27-25, 22-25 and 24-26. 

It was the Indians' first win of the season having lost at home to Lutheran and New Berlin and on the road at Central A&M. The Panther loss marked the third consecutive for Coach Jeremy Heigert's varsity squad, who fell to 1-3 on the season.

Both teams played hard and both teams deserved to win in a very entertaining match played Monday, Sept. 9, at Pawnee. Although the Indians' roster contains just eight players, five are starting seniors, Melanie Rhoades, Haleigh Meier, Abby Landrey, Jessica Roberts and Carsen Jarrett, while junior Hannah Williams and sophomores Maddy Byers and Jordan Watts round out the lineup.

Coach Heigert's starting lineup included Becky Painter, Kate Komor (libero), Carson Jackson, Jordan Morgan, Devan Morgan, Emily Senjan and Mallory Beechler. Jordan Minkevich, Aly Fenton and Cara Pence all subbed in and contributed.

In the first set, the Indians would establish a 9-5 lead that was extended to 15-11 after a hard driven spike from Litchfield's Becky Painter sailed out of bounds. A lengthy rally won by Litchfield put Jordan Minkevich on the serving line and back-to-back kills by Jordan Morgan drew Litchfield to within one. 

The Panthers relinquished possession after Beechler's ball return touched the net antenna and Pawnee rattled off the next six points before Jessica Roberts' serve found the net. 

With Litchfield trailing 22-15, the two teams would bounce back and forth trading points when a close call on a spike by Pawnee's Melanie Rhoades was called out of bounds and possession went to Litchfield, with the Indians needing a single point to close out the set. 

With Jordan Morgan at the service line and Litchfield trailing 24-19, the Indians couldn't keep the ball in play and Litchfield tied the score at 24 before Coach Cindy Rabideau called a Pawnee time out to settle the nerves. 

The Indians responded with Jarret's soft floater over the Panther defense for point 25 and the ball, but Maddy Byers' scraped the net and Litchfield found another chance with the score tied at 25. With Emily Senjan serving Becky Painter dinked the ball between the Pawnee defense, followed by a serve receive error against the Indians and the Panthers clawed their way to a 27-25 first set squeaker.

Both teams continued to scrap in the second set with Pawnee grabbing an early 3-0 lead, but Cara Pence's kill broke a 3-3 tie. With the score tied at five, Litchfield gained points from two consecutive defensive errors by the Indians followed by a stuff at the net by the blocking combo of Becky Painter and Mallory Beechler. 

The Panther lead grew to 13-9 by virtue of a kill by Jordan Morgan, but the Indians reversed the tide and chipped away to build their own 21-15 lead. Litchfield would battle back to draw the score to 20-23, but Pawnee would hold for the win to send the match to the all important third set.

Litchfield would jump to a 2-0 lead following a Cara Pence spike off the Pawnee defenders and a well placed hit to the corner by Beechler. Following a serve in the net by Rhoades and a spike in the net by Jordan Watts, Litchfield led 4-1. Pawnee tied the score at four and again at eight but a Pence dink and an out of bounds spike inched the Panther lead to 12-8. After Litchfield stretched the lead to 16-10, it was time to talk as Coach Rabideau signaled for the TO.

A Pawnee serve/receive error garnered point 17 for the Panthers but Beechlers' next serve found the net and it was Pawnee's turn. 

With Jessica Roberts at the service line, the Indians rallied for four consecutive points and there would be no more than three points separating both teams for the remainder of the set. 

The match would come down to crunch time with Roberts being in the limelight once again as she stepped to the service line and the Panthers could not cleanly return the serve. Trailing 24-25, Coach Heigert called the Panthers to the sideline and following the time out, Roberts served into the net and Litchfield breathed new life once again.

Tied at 25, Becky Painter could not get her serve to clear the net and the match ended with a successful spike off the hand of Haleigh Meier.

Litchfield's top point getter was senior Jordan Morgan who had 13 service points, followed by Cara Pence and Becky Painter each with nine, Emily Senjan with five and Jordan Minkevich with three. J. Morgan also collected five kills and dug out nine balls. Pence matched Morgan in kills with five and had five digs. 

Becky Painter recorded four kills and five digs while Senjan added a kill and 12 digs to the Panther effort. Kate Komor had 12 digs, Minkevich had four and Carson Jackson two.

The Indians combined for 31 kills against the Panther defense with Jordan Watts leading the charge with eight followed by Haleigh Meier with six, Jessica Roberts and Melanie Rhoades each with five, Carsen Jarrett three, Maddy Byers and Abby Landrey each with two.  Rhoades led her team in digs with 11 followed by Meier with nine, Roberts six, Byers three and Watts one. Byers and Roberts also combined for 22 assists with each dishing 11.

Pawnee would also pick up the win in JV play, by a 25-6, 25-10 final score.

September 9 at Pawnee

Litchfield 27 22 25

Pawnee 25 25 27

Litchfield Statistics

Service Points: Jordan Morgan 13, Cara Pence 9, Becky Painter 9, Emily Senjan 5, Jordan Minkevich 3. Aces: Cara Pence 2, Becky Painter 1, Emily Senjan 1. Kills: Cara Pence 5, Jordan Morgan 5, Becky Painter 4, Emily Senjan 1. Assists: Jordan Morgan 2, Emily Senjan 2. Digs: Kate Komor 12, Emily Senjan 12, Jordan Morgan 9, Aly Fenton 7, Becky Painter 5, Cara Pence 5, Jordan Minkevich 4, Carson Jackson 2. Blocks: Emily Senjan 2, Becky Painter 1, Cara Pence 1.

Record: Litchfield (1-3).

East Alton-Wood River Knocks Off Litchfield

After a draining loss at Pawnee on Monday night, the Panthers returned home Tuesday evening, Sept. 10, to face East Alton-Wood River and it was the Oilers who would claim a 25-16, 25-22 match win in a hot and steamy Simmons Gym. 

Thus far it has been a busy week for the Panthers as they played two matches in two days and will play at Greenville tonight before entering the Grace Filled Tournament that begins on Friday and culminates Saturday.

The Panthers fell behind 5-1 in the first set but battled back to tie the score at 5-5, 7-7, 9-9 and 13-13 before the Oilers put together a mini streak that resulted in a 20-15 lead. 

Trailing 15-19, Litchfield had possession but a downed spike by EAWR's Karli Withers returned the serve back to the Oilers and they closed out the set with Ali Sidwell at the service line.

The Oilers began the second set with the serve but Litchfield quickly regained possession on a big hit by Becky Painter. The Panthers ran out to a 5-0 lead with senior Devan Morgan at the service line and maintained a lead until the Oilers tied the score at eight on an out of bounds hit by the Panthers. 

A long rally won by the Panthers, followed by a service ace by Emily Senjan and a block by Becky Painter, would boost the Panthers to a 13-11 lead but the Oilers pushed back and tied the score. 

The two teams would battle to ties of 16 and 19 before EAWR opened a 23-20 lead. After a Litchfield time out, Jillian Barbers' attack found the net and it was Litchfield's turn to serve.  

Down by two, the Panthers gained point 22 after an errant return by the Oilers but it would be the last points Litchfield would score as the Oilers served out the set and captured the match win 25-22.

Leading the team in service points for Litchfield were senior Devan Morgan and junior Emily Senjan each with six points, including an ace for each. Other points went to Jordan Morgan with four, Mallory Beechler two, Cara Pence two, Kate Komor two and Carson Jackson one. Becky Painter had four kills and Emily Senjan drew three.  D. Morgan also recorded seven assists and 14 digs. K. Komor and. J. Morgan both had six digs each followed by Aly Fenton and E. Senjan each with five, M. Beechler and C. Pence with four apiece, C. Jackson with three and Jordan Minkevich with two.

For the Oilers, senior Leighanne Nottke had 12 assists and 12 digs. Jillian Barber had five kills and 11 digs and Aubrey Robinson had five solo blocks and three kills. Ali Sidwell led the team with 18 digs.

The junior varsity Panthers captured a 25-22, 25-21 win over the Oilers. 

September 10 at Litchfield

East Alton-Wood River 25 25

Litchfield 15 22

Litchfield Statistics

Service Points: Emily Senjan 6, Devan Morgan 6, Jordan Morgan 4, Mallory Beechler 2, Kate Komor 2, Cara Pence 2, Carson Jackson 1. Aces: Emily Senjan 1, Devan Morgan 1. Kills: Becky Painter 4, Emily Senjan 3. Assists: Devan Morgan 7. Digs: Devan Morgan 14, Jordan Morgan 6, Kate Komor 6, Aly Fenton 5, Emily Senjan 5, Cara Pence 4, Mallory Beechler 4, Carson Jackson 3, Jordan Minkevich 2. Blocks: Emily Senjan 2, Becky Painter 1.

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