Explorers Outlast Panthers In Straight Set Win


According to the rules of the IHSA, the dimensions of a high school volleyball court are 60 feet in length and 30 feet wide. The area above the court should be clear of any obstructions and at least 23 feet high, the latter of which warranted an adjustment in play for the Lady Panthers at Alton Marquette. 

While a low ceiling height did not determine the outcome of the match, it was a distraction for the Panthers in the early going as Marquette rolled to a 25-10 first set win. 

Litchfield hung with the Explorers in the early portion of the set but a kill by Ellanour Brass gave the hosts a 5-3 lead that ballooned to 11-4 before Blair Johnson blistered a kill for side out and a point. 

Marquette would reverse the serve on a called touch from a hard driven spike off the hand of Natalie Wills. The power of the spike was Marquette’s best friend down the stretch as Allison Geiger put down three kills and the Explorers closed out the set with momentum and first serve in set two.

Litchfield would get on the scoreboard first in the second set as a serve from Marquette’s Allison Woolbright resulted in a back row kill from Johnson. 

Marquette’s Kylie Murphy knotted the score at one with a downed spike and a Panther miscommunication in serve receive gave Marquette a narrow one point advantage. The serve return bug continued to haunt the Panthers as their hosts built a 9-3 lead, but a kill by Johnson and a net stuff by Johnson and Taylor Brakenhoff drew the score to 9-5. Rhodes garnered point six with a hard driven spike as Litchfield began to play with composure and confidence.

Marquette added point number 10 on a soft dink over the Panther front row defense and two of the next four points scored by the Explorers were directly associated with controlling the trajectory of Marquette’s returns in relation to ball velocity and ceiling height. 

The Explorers opened up what seemed to be an insurmountable 19-9 lead but the progression of improvement shone brightly for Coach Abby Carlson’s Panthers as the serve reverted back to Litchfield from another kill at the net by Rhodes.

With junior Emma Walch at the service line, an inspired Panther lineup reeled off the next six points before the ball would find the net and it was side out to Marquette. Walch finished the two set match with 10 inbound serves and just one outside the court boundaries. 

The two teams traded points on a serve return error against the Panthers and an out of bounds serve from Marquette. A hitting error gave Marquette a 22-16 lead and a long and competitive rally won by the Explorers extended their lead to seven. 

Litchfield was awarded point 17 on a four-hit call against Marquette and the two teams would again trade points on errant hits by both. 

A serve return error from Marquette gave Litchfield point 19 and possession but the court could not hold an out of bounds serve and Marquette captured their seventh win of the season with a 25-19 straight set win.

The Marquette starting lineup contains four seniors and three juniors. They are 7-1 on the season with their only loss coming in tournament play against Civic Memorial on Aug. 28

Coach Abby Carlson countered with one senior, three juniors and three sophomores including the libero position. Junior Blair Johnson led the team with four kills, three blocks and three digs. Fellow junior teammate Emma Walch had three digs, three assists and one block while sophomore Annika Rhodes recorded three kills, a block and a dig. 

Sophomore Amy Frerichs was credited with two digs. Junior Carlee Harmon had a solo kill and senior Taylor Brakenhoff had a net block. 

“We started a new lineup during this match, it took us a little while to settle into the new roles, but by the end of the second set things were starting to fall into place,” Coach Carlson said. “Alton Marquette is a solid program and they were able to keep us out of system more than we would have liked, but we made some in set changes which helped turn the momentum our way towards the end of the second set. The girls played hard until the end, and I am proud of them for staying positive and never giving up.”

Litchfield will host Hillsboro tonight in Simmons Gymnasium beginning with a freshman match starting at 5 p.m.

August 31 at Alton

Litchfield 10 19

Marquette 25 25

Marquette Statistics

Service Points: Allison Woolbright 10, Emma Bohannon 5, Torrie Fox 5, Ryan O’Leary 4, Kylie Murray 3, Chloe White 2, Abby Williams 2, Sydney Ehrman 1. Aces: E. Bohannon, A. Woolbright 2, T. Fox 2, K. Murray 1, C. White 1. Attack Attempts/Kills: Allison Geiger 8/4, Natalie Wills 6/3, C. White 6/2, Olivia Ellebracht 4/2, K. Murray 3/2, T. Fox, 2/1, Ellanour Brass 1/1, A. Williams 5/0, A. Woolbright 2/0. Blocks: A. Williams 1. Assists: A. Woolbright 12, T. Fox 3, O. Ellebracht 2, E. Bohannon 2. Digs: A. Williams 6, R. O’Leary 3, S. Ehrman 3, A. Woolbright 3, A. Geiger 2, C. White 2, Shay O’Leary 2, E. Brass 2, K. Murray 1, Livy Kratschmer 1, Hannah Marshall 1.

Litchfield Statistics

Serves In/Out: Emma Walch 10/1, Annika Rhodes 6/0, Kendall Stewart 5/1, Carlee Harmon 3/0, Blair Johnson 2/0, Taylor Brakenhoff 1/1. Service Aces: K. Stewart 1. Attack Attempts/Kills: B. Johnson 17/4, A. Rhodes 10/3, T. Brakenhoff 4/0, K. Stewart 2/0, C. Harmon 1/1, E. Walch 1/0. Blocks: B. Johnson 3, C. Harmon 2, T. Brakenhoff 1, E. Walch 1, K. Stewart 1, A. Rhodes 1. Assists: E. Walch 3, Digs: B. Johnson 3, E. Walch 3, Amy Frerichs 2, A. Rhodes 1.

Records: Marquette (7-1), Litchfield (0-2).


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