The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets (30-8) moved to within one game of the class 2A state tournament with the 3-0 sweep of Pekin in volleyball action Friday night in Eddyville.
The 25-16, 29-27, 25-16 match victory sets up a match against top-ranked Dike, Wednesday night in Grinnell.
After grabbing an early 3-1 lead in the opening game, the Rockets led for the rest of game one.
E-B-F had all the power play at the onset of the match. A nine to one kill advantage powered them to the win. Back to back kills by Karlie Taylor gave the Rockets a 9-3 lead. Taylor would add three more kills and have six for the game as the Rockets closed out the game one win.
“I felt really confident at the start as I noticed I would have a size advantage over their blockers,” said Taylor.
The Panthers evened out the attacking statistics some in game two but some late hitting errors hurt their chances to steal game two.
Pekin led for the majority of the second. The Panthers enjoyed their biggest led at 12-5 and still led 19-15 after a kill by Cheyanne Lankford. Lankford, who sprained her ankle late in game one, had two kills in the Pekin second.
“We felt like if we could serve and hit deep that we would be able to negate their advantage at the net,” said Pekin coach Ashley Bartels.
The Rockets survived a poor passing game in the second and fought back to tie it at 19 on a Taylor kill. Taylor’s big hit came in the middle of a strong service run by Rocket Amanda Ratliff.
“This one of our poorest passing games of the season,” said E-B-F coach Gladys Genskow. “We lost a little focus and intensity in the second game. I thought the fact that we spot served and blocked pretty well - carried us through the rest of the match.”
E-B-F went up 24-22 and forced a Panther timeout. Out of the timeout, back to back kills by Lankford and Jacinta Cooley tied it at 24.
A big hit by Tasha Alexander put E-B-F up 27-26 but it was two of the softest balls hit all night that won game two for the Rockets. Setter, Paige Shafer, quick set a ball over for a 28-27 Rocket lead and McKinley Moore’s tip winner ended game two.
Sometimes when the underdog in a match expends a lot of energy and comes up just short - it ends their night. Not so for the Panther effort in game three.
“Our girls have come from behind before and won so they believed they could win,” said Bartels.
Alexander had a big hitting game for the Rockets as they won game three. She started the third with kills for the first two Rocket points but it wasn’t until her third kill found the floor, that E-B-F could grab the lead for good at 10-9. Alexander’s fourth kill kept the Rockets up 15-11. Two points later, she would start a four point service run to make the Rocket lead 20-15.
Alexander finished off her big game with a winner to keep E-B-F up 21-16.
“We just passed the ball a lot better in game three,” said Alexander. “It made it easier for Paige (Shafer) and I just took advantage of it.”
Ratliff would run off the final four points with the serve and the Rockets would get the chance to play the state’s best.
“Even though tonight was a little frustrating, this team rises to the occasion and I think we are capable of playing with anybody,” added Genskow.
Serving — Maranda Baker 11/12, Leslie Stone 15/15, Lankford 7/7, Madelyn Baker 6/8, Emily Adam 8/10, Brittany Gillam 0/1, Cooley 7/8. Team 54/60 . Aces — Maranda Baker, Adam. Team — 2.
Hitting — Lankford 24/27, Maranda Baker 11/15, Gillam 1/1, Jessica Horras 4/8, Stone 9/12, Madelyn Baker 9/10, Peyton Atwood 1/1, Tiana Slaney 1/2, Cooley 19/21. Team 79/97 . Kills — Lankford 2, Maranda Baker, Gillam, Stone, Madelyn Baker, Cooley 3. Team — 9.
Setting — Stone 14. Team — 15.
Blocks — Lankford 2, Cooley 3. Team — 5.
Digs — Maranda Baker 11. Team — 53.
Serving — Harlie Boyer 8/9, Alexander 18/18, Ratliff 15/17, Shafer 9/10, Taylor 8/10, Shunyl Busch 10/13. Team 68/77 . Aces — Alexander 2, Busch. Team — 3.
Hitting — Shafer 1/2, Boyer 1/1, Busch 9/12, Taylor 26/30, Sadie Baugher 9/10, Alexander 26/32, Moore 11/13. Team 83/100 . Kills — Shafer, Busch, Taylor 12, Baugher 2, Alexander 10, Moore 2. Team — 28.
Setting — Shafer 36. Team — 38.
Blocks — Busch 3, Taylor 2, Baugher 2, Moore 3. Team — 10.
Digs — Alexander 9, Boyer 8, Busch 8, Ratliff 8. Team — 41.