It was a new season and new coaches but opening night was fraught with familiarity as the Litchfield High School volleyball team hosted Staunton Tuesday night, March 16. The Lady Bulldogs’ lineup forcibly set a pace that led to a 25-6 first set decision, followed by a closely contested 25-22 second set win that helped to preserve a straight set match win over the Lady Panthers.
The Bulldogs raced to a 6-0 lead in the first set before senior Cara Pence drew Litchfield’s first point from the back row.
Haris Legendre spiked the Bulldogs to a 7-1 lead but a service error returned the ball to Litchfield and it was 7-2.
Staunton reeled off the next four points with front row work from Legendre and Gabbie Reising. The Bulldog lead ballooned to 19-5.
Litchfield picked up point six from a net call that went against Staunton, but the Bulldogs again put together another 6-0 run to close out the first set.
Litchfield battled in the second set and the two teams played toe-to-toe. The Panthers held leads of 5-2, 7-3, 11-6 and 14-9 before Staunton crept back into the set and forced a Panther timeout at 14-13.
A net foul against Litchfield knotted the score at 14 and Taylor Nolan’s cross court spike broke the tie and gave Staunton their first lead of the set, a lead they would not relinquish.
Trailing 21-20, Cara Pence sent a spike deep in the corner and there was no return. Tied at 21, Kennedy Legendre broke the tie with a cross court missile and it was 22-21 Staunton.
Litchfield found a hole in the Bulldog defense and knotted the score at 22. With Pence at the service line, Taylor Nolan put Staunton up by one and a double hit that went against the Panthers gave Staunton a two-point edge.
Staunton closed out the match with Reising at the service line and a back row spike attempt by Pence that sailed over the end line.
The junior Panthers lost in three, 25-23, 4-25 and 17-25.
Litchfield will be on the road for the first time in 2021 tonight, March 18, when they travel to Carlinville.