After losing to Pana on Oct. 7, Litchfield Coach Abby Carlson’s varsity Panthers took a deep breath, dusted themselves off and jumped back on the win wagon with a convincing 25-11, 25-14 home win over Metro-East Lutheran.
The two teams met at Metro-East Lutheran on Sept. 20 and although Litchfield won in straight sets, it was a tussle that was determined by two points in each set as the Panthers held on for a 25-23, 25-23 non-conference win.
The vibe of the Panthers in Tuesday night’s match was noticeable in the first set as the purple and white played with confidence and energy. A Litchfield net foul gave Metro-East an early 1-0 edge but it would be the last time the Knights would be in the driver’s seat as Litchfield opened a 10-6 lead that ballooned to 13-6 with Gina Painter at the service line.
After the freshman served up an ace followed by a Metro-East hitting error, Annika Rhodes added an exclamation to end the rally with an attack that handcuffed the defense. The Panthers would continue their dominance as they outscored their guests 12-5 to close out the first set win.
Again in the second set, Metro-East claimed a 1-0 lead off a net serve by the Panthers, but the next three points belonged to the home team as Metro was called for a touch from a Rhodes attack, followed by a kill by Johnson and a service ace by Rhodes.
Trailing 7-5, Metro’s Sarah Henke inched the Knights back to within a point but an out of bounds serve returned the ball to the Panthers. Johnson’s net serve was repeated by Metro’s April Hepner and Litchfield grabbed points 10 and 11 with Taylor Brakenhoff at the service line.
Lexi Bozarth’s attack ended the Brakenhoff service but Emma Walch reclaimed possession with one of her two match kills.
Litchfield extended their 13-10 lead to 18-12 before Metro-East Coach Jenna Ward called a timeout that resulted in return of possession but a two hit call reversed their term of service to Litchfield. With Kendall Stewart at the service line, Litchfield added points 20 and 21.
A long volley gave Metro-East their last point of the set and the Panthers closed out the match from a net foul called against the Knights, a kill by Rhodes and a touch call from a deep jump serve off the hand of Johnson.
Annika Rhodes was the serve leader with 11 inbound and only one out. Blair Johnson led the team with five aces from the service line. Emma Walch was the team leader with eight assists. Johnson recorded six of Litchfield’s 11 kills. Carlee Harmon led the team with two bocks. Rhodes and Frerichs were the co-leaders in digs with five apiece.
After losing the first set 25-10, the junior Panthers roared back to claim the final two sets 25-20, 25-22 for the JV match win. Next up for the Panthers is a road trip to Vandalia this evening, Oct. 14, where they will face the Vandals for a second time this season in a conference match-up.
October 12 at Litchfield
Litchfield 25 25
Metro-East Lutheran 11 14
Serves In/Out: Annika Rhodes 11/1, Carlee Harmon 8/1, Kendall Stewart 6/1, Blair Johnson 6/2, Gina Painter 4/0, Emma Walch 4/2, Taylor Brakenhoff 3/0. Aces: B. Johnson 5, A. Rhodes 2, E. Walch 1, T. Brakenhoff 1, C. Harmon 1, Gina Painter 1. Attack Attempts/Kills: B. Johnson 13/6, A. Rhodes 8/2, E. Walch 3/2, C. Harmon 3/1, T. Brakenhoff 1/1, K. Stewart 2/0, G. Painter 1/0. Assists: E. Walch 8, Ashley Hickerson 3, Amy Frerichs 1. Blocks: C. Harmon 2, A. Rhodes 1, B. Johnson 1. Digs: A. Frerichs 5, A. Rhodes 5, C. Harmon 3, B. Johnson 2, E. Walch 1.
Record: (Litchfield 9-10, 3-2)