Only two schools have ever won a Montgomery County Invitational in the three years the tournament has been held. On Saturday, Lincolnwood, one of the hosts of the tournament, tried to become the third.
The Lancers were 8-0 going into the championship game, after sweeping through pool play and their Gold Flight semifinal contest, but a tall task (literally) stood in their way. Staunton entered the tournament 4-4, but their losses were against Nashville, Freeburg, Edwardsville and Pleasant Plains in tournament play, nary a cupcake among them.
The Bulldogs were also the defending champions and boasted a potent lineup, including sisters Haris (5’10”) and Kennedy (5’9”) Legendre.
Try as they might, Lincolnwood couldn’t keep Staunton from claiming title number two, as they defeated the Lancers 25-11, 25-19.
Both teams had some down time after winning their semifinals in the gold flight as Lincolnwood beat North Mac in three games, 25-22, 20-25, 15-11, while Staunton topped South Central Conference foe Vandalia 25-19, 25-12. The break came thanks to a wild third place game that saw North Mac lose handily to the Vandals 25-9 in game one, before mounting a comeback to win 26-24 and 25-22 in the next two games to capture third.
The championship tilt was close early as neither team strung together too many points. Up 8-6, Staunton broke Lincolnwood’s serve on a kill by Kennedy Legendre, who then went on a five-point serving run that upped the Bulldogs’ lead from two to eight points.
If that wasn’t a backbreaker for the Lancers, Staunton’s next run definitely was as Kylie Lucykow served up five more points and benefitted from Haris Legendre hammering home kills at the net to make it a 21-8 ball game.
Lincolnwood tried to rally back, but had difficulty with the Staunton front line and succumbed to a 14-point defeat.
Game two would be much closer, with the Lancers’ Hailee Belsher starting to get into her groove. The Morrisonville junior finished the game with six kills, the majority of which came in the second set.
Lincolnwood led by as many as three early in the game and were still ahead 8-7 before Staunton tied things up, then took a 10-8 lead behind the serving of Danielle Russell.
Staunton wouldn’t trail again, but Lincolnwood kept it within two or three points until late in the game. The Bulldogs would build up to game-point at 24-18, before a hit went out of bounds to give the Lancers one last chance. Kennedy Legendre put an end to any miracle comeback hopes though, hammering home the kill for the 25-19 win.
After the game, the Legendres were both named to the all-tournament team, with Haris being selected as the tournament’s most valuable player. Sidney Glick and Hailee Belsher also made the all-tournament list for the Lancers.
Beat INAD Pool
The loss to the Bulldogs did nothing to take the shine off the tournament for the Lancers, who defeated Ramsey, St. Elmo-Brownstown and Greenview in pool play on their home court in Raymond.
In the opening game of the tournament, Lincolnwood dispatched Ramsey 25-8, 25-12, in a regular season rematch against the Rams.
St. Elmo-Brownstown defeated Greenview in game two of pool play, 25-14, 25-12, setting up a showdown between the Eagles and the Lancers. Lincolnwood would get the better of the visitors, but just barely as they won 25-14, 26-24.
After Ramsey defeated Greenview 25-13, 26-24, Lincolnwood kept tournament newcomers winless with a 25-7, 25-11 victory over Greenview.
The night ended with St. Elmo-Brownstown defeating Ramsey 25-17, 25-22, which put the Eagles in the Silver Flight and the Rams in the Copper Flight.
In addition to the game action, Lincolnwood volleyball and the volunteers that make the tournament happen also raised money and awareness for infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD). Dubbed a Grace-Filled Tourney, the event honors the late Grace Herschelman, who passed away this May at the age of nine after a long battle with INAD.
Lincolnwood Head Coach Kimberly Denney presented Grace’s parents, Kyle and Mary Herschelman of Hillsboro, and her sister, four-year-old Charlotte, with one of the original game balls from the tournament. A prayer circle was also held at the event, with Hillsboro’s Isabella White leading the group.
“The support and generosity of the Montgomery County volleyball families continues to amaze us,” Kyle Herschelman said. “We wish Grace could have been here with us, but we are so grateful for all of those who make this event happen.”
With the tournament in the books, the Lancers now turn their attention back to the regular season, where they will take on Carlinville on Monday, Sept. 13, in Macoupin County.
Sept. 10 at Hillsboro
Montgomery County Invite
Beat INAD Pool - Game One
Lincolnwood 25 25
Ramsey 8 12
Service Points: Sidney Glick 15, Desi Pitchford 8, Haelee Damm 6, Avery Pope 5, Hailee Belsher 1, Madyson Bockewitz 1. Aces: Sidney Glick 8, Haelee Damm 4, Desi Pitchford 2, Avery Pope 1. Kills: Hailee Belsher 11, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 5, Haelee Damm 4, Sidney Glick 2, Desi Pitchford 1. Assists: Tessa Funderburk 11, Avery Pope 7, Madyson Bockewitz 1. Digs: Madyson Bockewitz 5, Hailee Belsher 3, Sidney Glick 2, Desi Pitchford 1, Avery Pope 1.
Beat INAD Pool - Game Two
Lincolnwood 25 26
St. Elmo-Brownstown 14 24
Service Points: Sidney Glick 11, Haelee Damm 9, Desi Pitchford 4, Hailee Belsher 3, Madyson Bocketwitz 3. Aces: Haelee Damm 3, Hailee Belsher 3, Desi Pitchford 3, Sidney Glick 2. Kills: Hailee Belsher 9, Desi Pitchfod 4, Sidney Glick 3, Haelee Damm 2, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 2. Assists: Tessa Funderburk 9, Avery Pope 9, Sidney Glick 1. Digs: Desi Pitchford 8, Haelee Damm 7, Madyson Bockewitz 5, Hailee Belsher 4, Avery Pope 4, Sidney Glick 3, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 3, Tessa Funderburk 1.
Beat INAD Pool - Game Three
Lincolnwood 25 25
Greenview 7 11
Service Points: Haelee Damm 15, Sidney Glick 11, Hailee Belsher 6, Avery Pope 3. Aces: Haelee Damm 11, Sidney Glick 8, Hailee Belsher 2, Avery Pope 2. Kills: Hailee Belsher 8, Haelee Damm 4, Desi Pitchford 1, Tessa Funderburk 1, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 1. Assists: Avery Pope 6, Tessa Funderburk 6. Blocks: Hailee Belsher 2. Digs: Hailee Belsher 5, Haelee Damm 4, Avery Pope 3, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 3, Sidney Glick 2, Desi Pitchford 2.
Sept. 11 at Hillsboro
Montgomery County Invite
Gold Flight Semifinal
Lincolnwood 25 20 15
North Mac 22 25 11
Gold Flight - 1st Place
Lincolnwood 11 19
Staunton 25 25
Service Points: Desi Pitchford 3, Haelee Damm 2, Madyson Bockewitz 1, Hailee Belsher 1. Aces: Haelee Damm 1. Kills: Hailee Belsher 6, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 5, Haelee Damm 2, Tessa Funderburk 2. Assists: Tessa Funderburk 8, Avery Pope 4, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 1. Blocks: Hailee Belsher 4. Digs: Jasmine Vickery 5, Haelee Damm 4, Sidney Glick 3, Hailee Belsher 3, Tessa Funderburk 1.
Record: Lincolnwood (8-1); Staunton (9-4).