They may be just starting their volleyball careers at Lincolnwood, but this year's seventh grade volleyball team has already made some pretty special memories in a short amount of time.
The team, which is made up of five seventh graders and eight sixth graders, brought home a fourth place trophy from the IESA Class 2A state tournament on Saturday, March 9, after going 1-2 in Pawnee.
The Lady Knights guaranteed themselves a trophy by virtue of their opening night win over Effingham St. Anthony on Friday, March 8. Playing on the familiar court of their rivals from Pawnee, Lincolnwood made short work of the Bullpups, beating them 25-9 in the first game and 25-14 in the second.
Kennady Clayton led the team with 11 service points and five aces, while Morgan Cowdrey had five points and two aces. Ashley Evans (seven points) and Skyler Shull (three points) also had aces in the win, while Taryn Millburg (five), Katelyn Armour (two) and Jazmin Seaton Hobson (two) contributed points as well.
In their semifinal match on Saturday, the Lady Knights drew Lewistown, who beat Villa Grove 25-10, 15-25, 25-13 in their state opener. Lincolnwood would keep it close against the Indians, but would move to the third place game with a 25-20, 25-17 loss.
Skyler Shull had four aces and nine points in the effort, while Morgan Cowdrey added three aces and four points. Ashley Evans also had an ace and three service points, while Katelyn Armour (five points) and Kennady Clayton (one point) contributed to the serving game as well.
A few hours later, the Lady Knights would be on the court again, this time going up against the Flying Geese of Kewanee Wethersfield. In a back and forth battle, the Lincolnwood girls saw their season come to an end as they lost 25-20, 25-23 to Wethersfield.
Lincolnwood would play well in the opening game and held the lead five times in the game, the last of which came with the score at 17-16. The Geese would take the lead back shortly and went on to win 25-20. Prior to the late points, Wethersfield's largest lead had been three points.
The second game would be even closer for the two teams as the lead volleyed back and forth. Down 24-21, Lincolnwood came back to break Wethersfield's serve and pull within one on a kill by Jazmin Seaton Hobson, but the Geese would weather the rally and held on for the two point win.
Skyler Shull (six points), Kennady Clayton (four points), Morgan Cowdrey (two points) and Taryn Millburg (two points) would all have aces in the match, while Ashley Evans and Jazmin Seaton Hobson added in two points apiece.
With the loss, the Lady Knights finish their season with a record of 24-7 and the school's second IESA state trophy in volleyball, following a first place finish in 2016. Lincolnwood has 14 appearances in the IESA state volleyball tournament all-time, with eight appearances coming since 2006.
The eventual champions of the tournament, Mendon Unity, also had a connection with Lincolnwood. Hayden Frankel, one of the players on the roster for the 23-1 state champion Colts, is the granddaughter of Lincolnwood graduate Cheryl Truebe Riney (formerly Cheryl Fuchs) and the great-granddaughter of the late Raymond Truebe, who was a teacher and administrator in the Panhandle District.
While the seventh grade season is over, there is still more volleyball to be played. Five of the members of the seventh grade team are also on the roster for the eighth grade squad, who will play for a sectional title on Monday, March 11, in Pawnee. The eighth grade Lady Lancers will take on Carrollton at 6:30 p.m., with the winner moving on to the IESA Class 2A State Tournament in Auburn on Friday, March 15.
Lincolnwood defeated Nokomis 25-13, 25-15 on March 6 to earn their regional title, while Carrollton beat Concord Triopia 25-19, 25-20 to advance to Monday's sectional game.