The saying, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful,” applies directly to the 2021 Lincolnwood High School volleyball season. The season was shortened, there was no postseason and they lost two games, all things that were far from perfect, but on April 15 and 16, the Lancers wrapped up a season that was unequivocally wonderful.
In their final three games of the season, one on April 15, two on April 16, the Lancers did what they’ve done to most teams this year, beat them in two. The wins improved their record to 14-2 on the year, the fourth best winning percentage (.875) in the program’s 47-year history. Just 73 wins away from 1,000 as a program, only the 96-97, 76-77 and 15-16 teams had higher winning percentages.
The success of the 2021 squad had a great deal to do with the senior class, six young players who racked up 96 wins in just 129 games, a winning percentage of .744. The six players, Cassie Krager, Maggie McClelland, Katelyn Payne, Lexie Millburg, Emme Weller and Jayden Kuchar, were all honored prior to the season’s final game, along with manager Drake Lercher, the team’s biggest fan.
“All six of these seniors have spent countless hours in the gym since they were third graders, playing year round. Their dedication and love for volleyball can be seen every time they step on the volleyball court,” said Lincolnwood Coach Kimberly Denney, who added that the group was her first Spikes ‘N Tykes players 10 years ago. “Seniors, I have no doubt that each of you are going to excel at whatever you try to accomplish in life because you have the work ethic and drive of true champions.”
That drive was on full display in their final three games, with the seniors playing a big part in the victories. On Thursday, the Lancers dispatched Calvary 25-16, 25-20 to finish 7-1 in the MSM Conference.
Seniors led five of the six statistical categories in the game and held several other spots further down the list. Cassie Krager led the team in service points (10) and aces (3), while Lexie Millburg and Emme Weller added four points each and Maggie McClelland had three.
On the attack, Katelyn Payne threw down eight kills, while Krager and McClelland contributed six apiece. Defensively, Millburg led the team in digs with 13, while Krager and McClelland added six each. Krager and Payne also had a block each in the win.
In addition to the seniors, Lincolnwood got 23 assists, six points and two aces from Avery Pope, who was also second in digs with seven. Sidney Glick added in three assists, four kills and one block, while Desi Pitchford contributed six kills and three digs.
The win was just the start of things to come as Lincolnwood defeated Mt. Pulaski 25-15, 25-15 to start Friday’s doubleheader at the Woodshed in Raymond.
Cassie Krager put down ten kills against the Hilltoppers, the gold standard of small school volleyball in Illinois. Katelyn Payne and Maggie McClelland would add in four kills apiece, while Avery Pope led the way with 20 assists.
In the serving game, McClelland led the way with 11 points and two aces, while Sidney Glick had three aces and seven points. Emme Weller (five points), Pope (three points) and Lexie Millburg (three points) also contributed at the line.
Defensively, Payne led the way with four blocks and four digs, while Sidney Glick had a team-high 14 digs. Maggie McClelland (8), Lexie Millburg (8), Avery Pope (5), Cassie Krager (5) and Emme Weller (3) also had multiple digs in the win.
The game against Carlinville would be even closer, with the Lancers outlasting the Cavies 25-22, 25-18.
Emme Weller would be on point with her serves, notching 12 points and three aces. Lexie Millburg added five points and two aces, while Cassie Krager and Maggie McClelland added in three points each.
Defensively, Katelyn Payne added four more digs to her season total, while McClelland and Millburg both had double digit digs with 15 and 11 respectively. Weller (9), Payne (7) and Jayden Kuchar (7) also came up big against the Carlinville hitters with 23 digs between the three of them.
Payne also led the attack, putting down 11 kills. Krager added in 10 kills and led the team in assists with 11, while Avery Pope added in seven assists.
All told, it was a spectacular and fitting way to end the season and the careers of the players who have helped turn Lincolnwood into a perennial success. While their contributions will be missed, the lessons they’ve learned will be transferred to the next generation of Lancers. As good as the varsity’s season was, the JV were just as good, going 14-2 themselves and proving that they are ready to usher in the next chapter of Lincolnwood volleyball in just a few short months.
April 15 at Raymond
Calvary 16 20
Lincolnwood 25 25
Service Points: Cassie Krager 10, Avery Pope 6, Lexie Millburg 4, Emme Weller 4, Maggie McClelland 3, Sidney Glick 1. Aces: Cassie Krager 3, Avery Pope 2, Emme Weller 1.Kills: Katelyn Payne 8, Cassie Krager 6, Maggie McClelland 6, Desi Pitchford 6, Sidney Glick 4. Assists: Avery Pope 23, Sidney Glick 3. Digs: Lexie Millburg 13, Avery Pope 7, Cassie Krager 6, Maggie McClelland 6, Sidney Glick 5, Desi Pitchford 3, Emme Weller 1. Blocks: Cassie Krager 1, Katelyn Payne 1, Sidney Glick 1.
Calvary JV 17 23
Lincolnwood JV 25 25
Service Points:Jasmine Vickery 10, Haelee Damm 10, Taryn Millburg 4, Ashley Evans 3, Skyler Shull 3, Emme Weller 3. Aces: Haelee Damm 3, Jasmine Vickery 2.
April 16 at Raymond
Mt. Pulaski 15 15
Lincolnwood 25 25
Service Points: Maggie McClelland 11, Sidney Glick 7, Emme Weller 5, Avery Pope 3, Lexie Millburg 3, Cassie Krager 1. Aces: Sidney Glick 3, Maggie McClelland 2, Cassie Krager 1, Emme Weller 1. Kills: Cassie Krager 10, Katelyn Payne 4, Maggie McClelland 4, Haelee Damm 2, Sidney Glick 1, Avery Pope 1. Assists: Avery Pope 20, Katelyn Payne 1, Emme Weller 1. Blocks: Katelyn Payne 4, Avery Pope 1, Cassie Krager 1. Digs: Sidney Glick 14, Maggie McClelland 8, Lexie Millburg 8, Avery Pope 5, Cassie Krager 5, Katelyn Payne 4, Emme Weller 3, Desi Pitchford 1, Haelee Damm 1.
JV: Mt. Pulaski JV def. Lincolnwood JV 25-23, 25-23.
April 16 at Raymond
Carlinville 22 18
Lincolnwood 25 25
Service Points: Emme Weller 12, Lexie Millburg 5, Cassie Krager 3, Maggie McClelland 3, Katelyn Payne 2, Jayden Kuchar 2, Sidney Glick 1. Aces: Emme Weller 3, Lexie Millburg 2, Cassie Krager 1, Katelyn Payne 1. Kills: Katelyn Payne 11, Cassie Krager 10, Lexie Millburg 2, Maggie McClelland 2, Sidney Glick 1, Desi Pitchford 1. Assists: Cassie Krager 11, Avery Pope 7, Emme Weller 2, Sidney Glick 1, Katelyn Payne 1. Blocks: Katelyn Payne 4, Cassie Krager 1, Avery Pope 1. Digs: Maggie McClelland 15, Lexie Millburg 11, Emme Weller 9, Katelyn Payne 7, Jayden Kuchar 7, Cassie Krager 5, Sidney Glick 4, Avery Pope 3, Desi Pitchford 1.
Record: Lincolnwood (14-2,7-1).
JV: Lincolnwood JV def. Carlinville JV 25-22, 25-7.
JV Record: Lincolnwood JV (14-2).