PEKIN – The Backyard Brawl came to the hardwood on Tuesday night.
The outcome was much different than the results on the gridiron in Ottumwa just four nights earlier.
Four days after falling on the gridiron at Schafer Stadium in the first athletic contest of the school year between the schools, Pekin got revenge against Sigourney on the volleyball court. Allison Bainbridge collected 12 kills while Kylie Noel delivered eight ace serves for the Panthers in a 25-21, 26-24, 25-8 sweep of the visiting Savages on Tuesday, leveling the Backyard Brawl series at 1-1 after Friday night’s 34-14 win by the Savage Cobra football squad.
”All four years that we’ve played Sigourney, it’s always been exciting and there’s always been a lot of pressure,” Pekin senior Kylie Davis said. “We always come through as a team and play great against Sigourney. As a senior, it’s pretty exciting to beat them on our home floor.”
The Panthers edged the Savages in two very tense opening sets with neither team leading by more than five points. After scoring five of the final six points in the second set to open a 2-0 lead in the match, Pekin rolled in its most decisive set of the season thus far, scoring 21 of the first 24 points on the way to a 17-point victory that was cheered on by many of the Panther football players that walked off the field disappointed on Friday after a 20-point loss to S-K.
”The football boys were so supportive, especially after Friday night,” Davis said. “They played a good game. It just didn’t go in their favor this time.”
Pekin’s serving, especially by Noel, helped give the Panthers an early lead in the opening set of the match. The senior libero collected three consecutive aces following a tiebreaking kill by Davis, giving Pekin an 8-3 lead and forcing Sigourney into its first timeout.
Sigourney did not go away, twice closing within a single point in the opening set. Taylor Gambell and Kaylee Peiffer blocked one attempt to tie the set. The Savages committed a serving error on the second and final attempt to catch Pekin
“Part of it for us is that this group needs to gain some confidence,” Sigourney head volleyball coach Chris Carter said. “We have some returning experience, but it’s a different type of returning experience. We need to learn how to not get so down on ourselves. We need someone to step up for us when things are not going our way.
“I thought we pushed and tipped the ball way too much tonight. We didn’t hit the ball aggressively. We gave them too many opportunities to set up their offense.”
Pekin used savvy play at the net from Erika Coleman to rally from a 14-9 deficit in the second set. Coleman finished with eight kills, all of which were well-placed tips over and around scrambling Sigourney players.
Sigourney rallied back from a 17-14 deficit in the same second set, passing the Panthers at 21-21 after a pair of missed shots by Pekin. Peiffer and Coleman each found points at the net to tie the score at 23-23 before Eden Greiner’s go-ahead ace put Pekin up for good. After an exchange of missed serves, Bainbridge closed the second set with a kill into the heart of the Sigourney back row.
“We talked before the season about capitalizing on our killer instinct,” Pekin head volleyball coach Sara Lane said. “We need to be up on every single point being competitive. We played smart on every single point, running our offense and making good decisions, capitalizing on Allison and Kylie and all the other threats we have on the front row.
“We pushed through the difficult situations and played the type of volleyball we know we can play.
Pekin (5-3) will take on Winfield-Mount Union on Thursday in the Southeast Iowa Superconference north division opener for the Panthers. Sigourney (0-4) will look to bounce back on Saturday at the English Valleys tournament.