Lancers Are Heading To Sectionals

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With 14 state tournaments and two state titles under their belts, giant-killers is hardly the role you’d expect to describe Mt. Pulaski’s volleyball program, who took on Lincolnwood in the championship of the Edinburg Regional on Thursday, Oct. 28.

That was the situation, though, as the Lancers entered the game as the second seed, going up against the seventh seeded Hilltoppers after they upset third seeded South County the night before.

And Mt. Pulaski played like they were ready to be regional champions for the 34th time in the program’s history, but so did Lincolnwood as they gutted out a three-game win over the Hilltoppers 25-19, 22-25, 25-22.

The Lancers only trailed once in the first game, with Mt. Pulaski scoring on the opening serve, but it would take some time for Lincolnwood to build a comfortable lead thanks to the play of Alexis Wade and Cassidy Clark, who accounted for eight of Mt. Pulaski’s first 11 points on kills.

At that point, the score was 12-11 in the Lancers’ favor, but things would ramp up as Lincolnwood scored seven of the next eight points to build up a seven-point lead, their biggest of the game.

The two teams would trade points and Mt. Pulaski got within four, but Hailee Belsher hammered home her sixth kill of the first game to give Lincolnwood the six-point win.

Game two would be even closer as the two teams were tied six times, the last of which came with the scoreboard showing 10-10. Just before the Hiltoppers tied the game the last time, Jasmine Vickery served up an ace to give Lincolnwood a 10-9 lead, reversing a 9-6 deficit which had been a Mt. Pulaski’s biggest lead of the game.

But the Hilltoppers would tie the game on a kill by Clark and scored the next two points on an illegal hit and a spike out of bounds by the Lancers. Up 12-10, Mt. Pulaski never trailed again, with the lead growing to as many as four, but usually in the one-to-two point range.

Mt. Pulaski would serve first in the decisive third game, but Sidney Glick put down a kill to give Lincolnwood the first lead. The see-saw started after that, with Mt. Pulaski taking a one-point lead four straight time, only to have the Lancers tie things up each time.

The last of the ties came at 5-5, with Lincolnwood pulling ahead on an errant hit by the Toppers on the next series. They’d add another point to make it 7-5 on a Desi Pitchford spike, making it the first time either team had led by more than one in game three.

As the game wore on, Lincolnwood remained in the lead, getting kills from Belsher, Haelee Damm and Tessa Funderburk, while Mt. Pulaski tried to keep up with the attacking combo of Clark and Wade. The Lancers’ advantage grew to five points twice in the game, first at 15-10 on an error by the Toppers, then again at 22-17 on another mishit.

By that point, time was running out for Mt. Pulaski, who tried to cut into the Lancer lead, but were unable to string together more than one or two points. Lincolnwood picked up point number 24 on a kill by Damm, who put the game away two rotations later on her 13th kill of the game to give her team a three-point win and their 16th regional title.

In addition to Damm’s 13 kills, Lincolnwood got 18 from Belsher, who went over 900 kills for her career in the semifinal win over Nokomis. Tessa Funderburk added five kills from the setter spot, while Jazmin Seaton-Hobson (4), Desi Pitchford (2) and Sidney Glick (2) also put down multiple kills. 

Avery Pope led the team in assists with 18, followed by Funderburk with 16, Jasmine Vickery and Belsher with three each, Glick with two and Damm with one. Lincolnwood’s 44 kills and 43 assists were both season-highs.

Pitchford and Belsher led the team in serving with two aces and seven points apiece. Vickery also had seven points and an ace, while Pope added five points and an ace. Glick (2 points, 1 ace) and Damm (1 point) finished out the serving for the Lancers.

Lincolnwood also posted a season-best 110 digs, with Damm leading the way with 21, followed by Vickery and Belsher with 19 apiece. Pitchford (17), Glick (15) and Seaton-Hobson (11) also had double digit kills, while Pope (7) and Funderburk (1) also contributed. At the net, Belsher had two blocks, while Funderburk and Damm added one apiece.

The win improved Lincolnwood’s record to 32-5-1 on the season and earned them a berth in the Greenfield Sectional on Monday, Nov. 1.

The sectional is loaded with talent, with the four teams holding a combined record of 117-23-1. Game one of the sectional features a pair of 30-win teams as Lincolnwood takes on Brown County, who is 30-3. The Hornets’ only losses came against Augusta Southeastern (who beat Lincolnwood at the New Berlin Tournament), Quincy Notre Dame and Mendon Unity, who they had beaten earlier in the season.

Mendon Unity is also at the Greenfield Sectional, taking their 26-10 record into their semifinal against 29-5 Springfield Lutheran, Lincolnwood’s MSM Conference rival. The winners advance to the regional championship on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. in Greenfield. Lincolnwood hosts the super-sectional on Friday, Oct. 5, at a time to be announced.

October 28 at Edinburg

Class 1A Regional Championship

Lincolnwood 25 22 25

Mt. Pulaski 19 25 22

Lincolnwood Statistics

Service Points: Hailee Belsher 7, Desi Pitchford 7, Jasmine Vickery 7, Avery Pope 5, Sidney Glick 2, Haelee Damm 1. Aces: Hailee Belsher 2, Desi Pitchford 2, Jasmine Vickery 1, Avery Pope 1, Sidney Glick 1. Kills: Hailee Belsher 18, Haelee Damm 13, Tessa Funderburk 5, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 4, Desi Pitchford 2, Sidney Glick 2. Assists: Avery Pope 18, Tessa Funderburk 16, Jasmine Vickery 3, Hailee Belsher 3, Sidney Glick 2, Haelee Damm 1. Digs: Haelee Damm 21, Jasmine Vickery 19, Hailee Belsher 19, Desi Pitchford 17, Sidney Glick 15, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 11, Avery Pope 7, Tessa Funderburk 1. Blocks: Hailee Belsher 2, Tessa Funderburk 1, Haelee Damm 1.

Records: Lincolnwood (32-5-1); Mt. Pulaski (16-15).

Class 1A Greenfield 

Sectional Teams

Brown County (30-3): Lost to Augusta Southeastern, Quincy Notre Dame and Mendon Unity (who they beat earlier in the year)

Mendon Unity 26-10): Lost to Quincy Notre Dame, Brown County, Lincoln, Macomb, Illini West, Taylorville (three times) and Augusta Southeastern (twice).

Lutheran (29-5): Lost to Augusta Southeastern, Pleasant Plains, Pleasant Plains, Nashville, Hartsburg-Emden

Lincolnwood (32-5-1): Staunton, Lutheran (twice), Mascoutah and Augusta Southeastern

Class 1A Volleyball 

Edinburg Regional

Monday, October 25

Match 1 - (2) Lincolnwood def. (14) Mt. Olive 25-10, 25-10

Match 2 - (9) Nokomis def. (8) Edinburg 25-19, 20-25, 25-20

Tuesday, October 26

Match 3 - (3) South County def. (12) Ramsey 25-7, 25-17

Match 4 - (7) Mt. Pulaski def. (11) Pawnee 25-18, 25-9

Wednesday, October 27

Match 5 -  (2) Lincolnwood def. (9) Nokomis 25-19, 25-20

Match 6 - (7) Mt. Pulaski def. (3) South County 27-29, 26-24, 25-19

Thursday, October 28

Match 7 - (2) Lincolnwood def. (7) Mt. Pulaski 25-19, 22-25, 25-22

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