Rhodes Puts Panthers On Path To Victory


Litchfield sophomore Annika Rhodes had four kills, five digs and was a perfect nine-for-nine from the service line, including two serves that fell for aces, to help the Panthers take a 25-17, 25-15 straight-set win over the Mt. Olive Wildcats in Simmons Gym on Oct. 4.

The two teams met previously on Sept. 11 in the Copper Flight of the Grace Filled Tournament and it was again Litchfield who would come out on top in a 25-19, 25-23 straight set win.

Monday night’s match was a tussle from the first serve to the last, and although Coach Punky Hittmeier’s varsity squad led just one time in the two-set match, it was not a true indication of their spunk as they just kept coming and coming. 

The Wildcats fell behind 12-8 in the first set but fought back to tie the score at 13 and again at 14 before giving way to a net serve by Abigail Lekso, a Taylor Brakenhoff dump over a Wildcat block and a Wildcat attack that found the middle of the net. 

Leading 17-14, Blair Johnson’s serve in the net returned the ball to their hosts, but in a blink of the eye, Annika Rhodes laid down one of her four match kills and Litchfield took possession. 

Leading 22-17, the final sequence of points began with a text book block on Mt. Olive’s Abigail Lekso by junior Carlee Harmon that prompted a timeout from Coach Hittmeier, but the set ended on a serve return error by the Wildcats.

With Emma Walch serving first in the second set, Mt. Olive would take a 1-0 lead on a net serve and possession. Litchfield’s Blair Johnson knotted the score with a kill and the two teams traded points until Harmon’s ace serve was followed by a Wildcat serve return error that helped the Panthers to a 5-2 lead. Leading 7-6, Mt. Olive’s Payton Stephens’ deep serve to the back row could not be returned and it was 7-7.

Litchfield retained possession and a one-point lead after a tip over the Wildcat defense from Johnson, who would then rotate to the serving position. The next two Litchfield points came at the service line after two Mt. Olive serve return errors. 

A long rally won by the Wildcats broke serve and they were down by just two. An out of bounds return by Mt. Olive and two serve return errors boosted the Panther lead to 12-9 and once again the tussle was on as the Wildcats just wouldn’t go away and drew the score to 16-14.

The Litchfield lead increased to five as Mt. Olive’s serve return effort hit a snag, but senior Sarah Korunka’s attack cut the lead to four and also returned the serve to the Wildcats. An out-of-bounds attack from the Wildcats short-circuited their comeback and the next four Panther points that sealed the win were highlighted with a kill from freshman Georgina Painter.

Carlee Harmon led the Panthers at the service line with 10 inbound missiles and four aces. She also gathered two digs and a block. Freshman Kendall Stewart was eight and one at the service line with an ace. She recorded two kills and two digs. 

Blair Johnson finished the match with three kills, five inbound serves, two aces and two digs. Emma Walch had six good serves, two digs and led the team with eight assists. Taylor Brakenhoff had four good serves, an ace, and one kill. Sophomore Madison Bremerkamp finished the night with 2 assists.

For Mt. Olive, Payton Stephens and Alex Knodel led the team with three kills apiece. Knodel and Sarah Korunka each had three service points while Stephens had two aces and Knodel Lilly Buzick each had one. Staley Schoen had two blocks. Leading their team in digs were Stephens and Sydnie Scheller with eight apiece. Buzick was the assist leader with four.

Litchfield will meet Pana tonight, Oct. 7, for an important South Central Conference match.

October 4 at Litchfield

Litchfield 25 25

Mt. Olive 17 15

Litchfield Statistics

Serves In/Out: Carlee Harmon 10/0, Annika Rhodes 9/0, Kendall Stewart 8/1, Emma Walch 6/3, B. Johnson 5/2, Taylor Brakenhoff 4/1. Aces: C. Harmon 4, A. Rhodes 2, B. Johnson 2, T. Brakenhoff 1, K. Stewart 1. Attack Attempts/Kills: A. Rhodes 9/4, B. Johnson 10/3, T. Brakenhoff 6/1, K. Stewart 5/2, C. Harmon 3/0, Georgina Painter 1/1. Blocks: C. Harmon 1. Assists: E. Walch 8, Madisyn Bremerkamp 2, Amy Frerichs 1. Digs: A. Frerichs. 7, A. Rhodes 5, E. Walch 2, B. Johnson 2, C. Harmon 2, K. Stewart 2.

Mt. Olive Statistics

Service Points: Alex Knodel 3, Sarah Korunka 3. Aces: Payton Stephens 2, Alex Knodel 1, Lilly Buzick 1. Kills: P. Stephens 3, A. Knodel 3. Blocks: Staley Schoen 2. Assists: L. Buzick 4, S. Korunka 1. Digs: P. Stephens 8, Sydnie Scheller 8.

Records: Litchfield (8-9); Mt. Olive (2-21).


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