PBL volleyball claims share of SVC regular-season title with 25-14, 25-7 win over Dwight

PAXTON -- With a 25-14, 25-7 win Thursday over Dwight, Paxton-Buckley-Loda won its first Sangamon Valley Conference regular-season title since 2012.
"All of us seniors really wanted to come in and have some type of title under our name, and that’s definitely what we came here to do," said Aubree Bruns, one of six PBL seniors.
The Panthers (24-9, 5-1 SVC) share the conference regular-season championship with Cissna Park (24-8-2, 5-1) and Watseka (21-12, 5-1). Their only SVC loss came via 21-25, 25-21, 25-13 score to Cissna Park on Sept. 13 -- during that match, Aubree Bruns went out with an injury.
“Of course, we would have liked to be the sole champion, but with Aubree’s injury and losing to Cissna Park in three sets, that’s what happens," PBL head coach Lindsay Stalowy said. "You can’t control an injury. We’ll settle for being co-champions for this season. It’s the first time we’ve been conference champions in a while, so I’m proud of the girls. They’ve played hard this season.”
Watseka, whose only SVC loss came via 25-20, 28-26 score to PBL, defeated Cissna Park 25-20, 25-15 on Monday, Oct. 15.
“There was really good competition, and I think we played really well with the other teams," PBL senior Lexi Johnson said.
Despite Bruns' injury, which is a torn ACL for which she will have surgery on Nov. 1, she was cleared to be on the serving block for Thursday's senior-night match.
“It was such a relief," Bruns said. "Volleyball is something that I can take everything out on. Not being able to do that for so long, and then to be able to do it again, feels amazing.”
Bruns recorded an ace during a 3-0 run that gave PBL a three-point lead to start game two of Thursday's match.
“She got cleared to serve, so we let her serve, and she did a good job for us tonight.”
Mackenzie Bruns added two kills and Addison Oyer had another kill to help extend PBL's game-two lead to 7-1. After Dwight sided out, three aces by senior Madi Peden and a block and a kill by Johnson helped extend the Panthers' advantage to 14-2.
A kill by Jade Miles, another senior, made the score 18-5 before Peden tallied a kill and Abbie Schmidt recorded an ace to help PBL extend their lead to 21-5.
Following a sideout by the Trojans, a diving save by Miles helped PBL gain a point that made the score 22-6. After an ace by Johnson extended the Panthers's lead to 23-6, Miles tallied another kill to score PBL's match-clinching point.
“Jade was all over the place tonight," Stalowy said. "Jade did really well tonight.”
Maria Lemenager, another senior, recorded an ace during an 8-1 run that gave PBL a seven-point lead to start game one.
A kill by Johnson made the score 10-5 before two aces by Schmidt helped extend the Panthers' lead to 13-6.
After Dwight sided out, three aces by Johnson helped extend PBL's advantage to 19-7.
Johnson would finished the game with four kills along with three aces, a block and four digs.
“It was just fun to finish the last game here with all of my friends and get the experience of senior year,” Johnson said. “It was a fun experience.”
Another kill by Johnson made the score 24-12 before Emily Adwell tallied a kill to give PBL its game-clinching point.
Mackenzie Bruns had two kills for the Panthers at the game's end while Schmidt had nine assists, three aces and one dig, Jade Miles had two kills, Katelyn Crabb -- another senior -- had one assist, one ace and six digs, Peden had a kill, three aces and one dig and Lemenager had one ace and three digs.
“It was a good team win," Stalowy said. "I’m happy the seniors could come away with the win on their senior night. We’re going to get in two practices, and then (play) regionals next week.”
The Panthers will start playing in the IHSA Class 2A Gilman Iroquois West Regional as the fifth seed as they face No. 11 seed Iroquois West in the quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“I’m excited for regionals," Johnson said. "Hopefully, we can pull out a win and make it to sectionals.”
“I think our girls have a really good chance of getting really far," Aubree Bruns added. "If they keep playing like they keep playing, they’re going to get there.”
The winner of Monday's quarterfinal match will face fourth-seeded El Paso-Gridley in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. the following Tuesday. The championship match of the regional, which includes top-seeded Tri-Valley, sixth-seeded Watseka and ninth-seeded Clifton Central, will take place at 6 p.m. next Thursday.
“It’s going to be a challenge, as always," Stalowy said. "This year, all of the regionals look pretty tough in our area. It’s going to be an exciting week.”
PBL def. Dwight 25-14, 25-7
At Paxton
For PBL (24-9, 5-1), kills: Lexi Johnson 4, Mackenzie Bruns 2, Jade Miles 2, Madi Peden, Addison Oyer, Emily Adwell; aces: Johnson 3, Peden 3, Abbie Schmidt 3, Aubree Bruns, Katelyn Crabb, Maria Lemenager; blocks: Johnson; digs: Crabb 6, Johnson 4, Lemenager 3, Schmidt, Peden; assists: Schmidt 9, Crabb.  
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports


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