On Oct. 25, 229 Class 1A volleyball teams started a journey that will end in disappointment for all but one on Nov. 13. While a season-ending loss may sting at the time, that game doesn’t tell the whole story of a team, not even close.
Lincolnwood Coach Kimberly Denney echoed that thought in her final words to her team after the Lancers fell to Brown County 25-17, 25-19 in the semifinal of the Greenfield Regional on Nov. 1.
“Today does not define you and all you have accomplished this season,” Coach Denney said. “These ladies have always been called my tiny but mighty team since junior high. They may average in height around 5’6 but that has never slowed them down from taking on bigger opponents. They play with heart and determination to achieve greatness together. I loved every minute of this season and my heart hurts that it has come to an end.”
How it came to an end was at the hands of a talented Brown County squad who has bested their program record for wins by 11, going 31-3 entering Wednesday’s sectional championship against Lincolnwood nemesis Springfield Lutheran.
The two teams went point for point in the early going, with ties at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4. Brown County collected the first multi-point lead after breaking Lincolnwood’s serve, going up 7-4, before Lincolnwood cut the lead back down to one on a net call and a hit out of bounds by the Hornets.
An error by the Lancers and back-to-back kills by Katey Flynn and Cortni Law built Brown County’s lead to four and it would stay that way for much of the rest of the opening game. The combo of Katey Flynn and twin sister Klare, along with Law, one of three seniors to see the floor, kept the Lancers on their toes as the trio combined for 25 of the Hornets’ 30 kills in the match.
Lincolnwood got as close as three late in the game, 18-15, but Brown County outscored them 7-2 from that point on, with Law putting down a kill for the final point.
The Lancers scored first in game two on an ace by Haelee Damm, but things would go south quickly for the orange and black. With Gabby McGath serving, Brown County rattled off six straight points after breaking Lincolnwood’s serve to take a commanding 7-1 early lead.
From there until late in the game, the Lancers would be unable to string points together as the Brown County lead grew to as many as 10. Down 22-12, Lincolnwood got the serve back and went on a mini-run with Sidney Glick serving, getting back-to-back kills from Hailee Belsher and capitalizing on two Hornet errors to cut the lead to six.
They’d get within five at one point, but no closer as a hit out of bounds gave Brown County their 25th point and a date with the Crusaders on Thursday.
The Hornets outhit Lincolnwood 30 kills to 17, with Hailee Belsher putting down nine kills despite a Brown County game plan to take the junior hitter out of her game. Freshman Jazmin Seaton-Hobson added four kills, while Sidney Glick (3) and Desi Pitchford (1) also contributed kills. Gabby McGath led Brown County with 27 assists, while Tessa Funderburk and Avery Pope had nine and six assists for Lincolnwood.
On the serving line, Lincolnwood had three fewer errors than the Hornets, but Brown County held a 5-3 edge in aces, led by Cortni Law with 2.
Glick paced the Lancers with five points, followed by Belsher with three and Pope and Pitchford with two.
Defensively, Jasmine Vickery had seven digs, while Pitchford and Glick finished with five and four in their final games for Lincolnwood. Coach Denney thanked the two seniors for their contributions after the game on the Lincolnwood volleyball Facebook page.
“Thank you for your dedication and leadership this season. You lead with goals in mind and never wanted to cut corners to keep everyone improving,” Denney said. “We love you and will miss seeing you in a Lancer jersey, but know you have more people to impact in this life. Good luck in all things and remember to make good choices.”
Glick and Pitchford leave the program with 97 wins under their belts, a number that would have been even greater had it not been for a shortened COVID year as juniors. Throughout their four years, the Lancers have won 75 percent of their games, with two regional titles and the third most wins in a season this year at 32-6-1.
While the losses of their two seniors will be felt, six of the eight players who saw the floor on Monday will return next year. That bodes well for the future of Lincolnwood volleyball, which only got stronger with the addition of Morrisonville this past season.
A lot of things have to go right for a team to be the one of the 229 who don’t end the season disappointed, but if Lincolnwood can build on this year’s success, they might just be that team.
Nov. 1 at Greenfield
Class 1A Sectional Semifinal
Lincolnwood 17 19
Brown County 25 25
Service Points: Sidney Glick 5, Hailee Belsher 3, Avery Pope 2, Desi Pitchford 2, Haelee Damm 1, Jasmine Vickery 1. Aces: Sidney Glick 1, Jasmine Vickery 1, Haelee Damm 1. Kills: Hailee Belsher 9, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 4, Sidney Glick 3, Desi Pitchford 1. Assists: Tessa Funderburk 9, Avery Pope 6. Digs: Jasmine Vickery 7, Desi Pitchford 5, Sidney Glick 4, Jazmin Seaton-Hobson 4, Hailee Belsher 3, Haelee Damm 2, Tessa Funderburk 1. Blocks: Hailee Belsher 2.
Brown County Statistics
Aces: Cortni Law 2, Gabby McGath 1, Klare Flynn 1, Gracie Hedden 1. Kills: Katey Flynn 10, Klare Flynn 8, Cortni Law 7, Gracie Hedden 5. Assists: Gabby McGath 27, Cyrah Dunlap 2, Klare Flynn 1. Digs: Cyrah Dunlap 8, Kaci McKeon 7, Gabby McGath 5, Cortni Law 4, Gracie Hedden 3, Katey Flynn 2, Klare Flynn 1. Blocks: Klare Flynn 1, Katey Flynn 1, Gabby McGath 1, Gracie Hedden 1, Cortni Law 1.
Records: Lincolnwood (32-6-1); Brown County (31-3).
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