Courier sports staff
---- — PEKIN – The Pekin volleyball team had to battle through a pair of decisive third games on Thursday before also having to battle one of the best teams with one of the top talents in the state. Ultimately, the Panthers came through four matches in its pool of the Southeast Iowa Superconference Tournament with a chance to win the championship this weekend.
The Panthers edged West Burlington and WACO in two thrilling matches at Fairfield Maharishi, winning a great match with the Falcons 21-13, 17-21 and 16-14 in the match that would ultimately be the difference in determining which team would have a chance to play for the SEISC Tournament title. After rallying for a 16-21, 21-19 and 15-7 win over the Warriors, Pekin swept MSAE 21-8 and 21-19 before falling to top-ranked Holy Trinity and future Nebraska Cornhusker Mikaela Foecke 21-15, 21-15.
The Panthers (9-5) finished the five-team pool in second place behind the Crusaders (25-1). Both teams will advance to play in the championship quarterfinals at the SEISC Tournament, which will be held all day at Loren Walker Arena in West Burlington. The Panthers will play an opponent yet to be determined at 5 p.m.
“We started off the night slow and make a lot of mistakes, but once we got out of that rut the girls fought in both the matches with West Burlington and WACO to earn those wins,” Pekin head volleyball coach Ashley Bartels said. “We were down and fought back to win and knew we had second place locked up going into the Holy Trinity match. We were ready for anything against them. The girls just came out and gave Foecke and that entire front line a great run. They just kept swinging at them.”
Like Fairfield Maharishi, Cardinal and Van Buren will play earlier in the day in West Burlington in the SEISC Tourney consolation bracket. The Comets finished third hosting one of the other four pool sites for the tournament while the Warriors finished fourth.
Roger Thomas will have more about the tournament action from Eldon in tomorrow’s edition of the Courier.