In the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and although Litchfield lost the first set to the Piasa Birds 15-25 at home and trailed 21-24 in the second set, the presumption could have been a straight set loss. Instead, Litchfield roared back in a nail biter that ended 27-25 in favor of the purple and white and forced a third set that also went the way of the Panthers as they played with confidence and bullied their way to a 25-18 match win at home in Simmons Gymnasium.
With the score tied at 14 in the second set, Blair Johnson lifted the Panthers to a two-point lead with downed spikes, but the Birds kept coming as indicated by score ties at 16 and 19.
Southwestern reeled off the next four points to come within two of closing out the important second set for the match win, but Coach Abby Carlson’s Panthers took another step in learning how to win as sophomore Annika Rhodes laid down a kill and point 21 was gained with Taylor Brakenhoff at the service line.
Southwestern regained possession with the scoreboard reading 24-21, but regifted the ball to Litchfield on a serve in the net.
With Emma Walch at the service line, Litchfield knotted the score at 24 and Coach Kaci Geisler called her troops to the sideline. Southwestern took point 25 from an out-of-bound Panther spike and again the favor was returned as Southwestern sailed a hit beyond the end line and it was 25 all. A big kill by Johnson and a net foul called against Southwestern ended a 27-25 second set thriller.
Litchfield rolled in the third set as they led by as many as four early. Southwestern drew the score to 8-7, but the Panthers picked up the pace and outscored the Birds 17-11 to seal the deal and post their second win of season in five matches.
Annika Rhodes had 14 inbound serves to lead the team at the service line followed closely by Emma Walch with 11 and Carlee Harmon 8. Rhodes had three aced serves and Walch posted two.
In power stats, Blair Johnson put down 14 kills and had three blocks, while Rhodes had three kills and a block. Carlee Harmon led the team with seven blocks at the net, followed by Brakenhoff and Johnson each with three. The team leader in assists was Emma Walch with 17 and Amy Frerichs led the Panthers with five digs.
September 9 at Litchfield
Litchfield 15 27 25
Southwestern 25 25 18
Serves In/Out: Annika Rhodes 14/2, Emma Walch 11/2, Kendall Stewart 9/0, Carlee Harmon 8/1, Blair Johnson 4/0, Taylor Brakenhoff 2/3, Ashley Hickerson 1/0, Amy Frerichs 0/1. Aces: A. Rhodes 3, E. Walch 2, B. Johnson 1, C. Harmon 1. Attack Attempts/Kills: B. Johnson 34/14, A. Rhodes 17/3, T. Brakenhoff 10/0, C. Harmon 8/1, E. Walch 4/0, K. Stewart 3/1. Blocks: C. Harmon 7, T. Brakenhoff 3, B. Johnson 3, E. Walch 2, K. Stewart 2, A. Rhodes 1. Assists: E. Walch 17, A. Hickerson 1. Digs: A. Frerichs 5, B. Johnson 3, A. Rhodes 2, E. Walch 1, K. Stewart 1.
Record: Litchfield (2-3)