'A good loss': PBL volleyball loses 25-17, 22-25, 30-28 to Watseka in SVC Tournament semifinals

GILMAN -- Two matches played within one week between Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Watseka came down to three sets.
In both matches, the winning team needed more than the standard 25 points to claim victory in the third set. 
On the Thursday prior to Tuesday's Sangamon Valley Conference Tournament semifinal match, PBL gained the upper hand over Watseka. On Tuesday, Watseka returned the favor with a 25-17, 22-25, 30-28 victory over the Panthers.
PBL's defeat, according to head coach Lindsay Muehlbauer, was one the team was " going to take as a good loss, if there is such a thing."
“We knew that they would come out fired up and that it was going to be a match no matter what," Muehlbauer said. “I'm proud of the effort that my team put out there tonight on the floor. I think we played well in general. We're going to put this game behind us and, hopefully, put the aggression from tonight into Thursday night's (third-place) match.”
In the match-deciding third game, Watseka took an early 3-2 lead before kills by Ariana Gentzler and Aubree Bruns gave PBL a 4-3 lead. The two teams traaded sideouts before Watseka reclaimed the lead at 6-5. 
Lindsey Windler tied the game at 6-6 with a kill before another kill by Gentzler gave PBL a 8-6 lead. 
After Watseka tied the game at 8-8, PBL (13-11) scored three straight points as another kill by Windler extneded the Panthers' lead to 11-8. Bruns then recorded a kill to make the score 13-9 and Gentzler produced an ace to extend PBL's lead to 15-11.
After the Warriors scored two straight points, kills by Bruns and Cassidi Nuckols and an ace by Kalista Klann extended the Panthers' lead to 18-13. After Watseka scored two more points, Nuckols produced another kill to make the score 19-15 in favor of PBL.
The Warriors would then score seven of hte next eight poitns to claim a 22-20 lead before Gentzler recorded two game-tying kills to make the score 23-23. 
“The strategy is to stay aggressive because a lot of teams in crunch time ease it over the net because they're too afraid to make mistakes," Muehlbauer said. "Our strategy is to stay aggressive the whole time.”
After Watseka reclaimed the lead at 24-23, PBL sided out before a block by Bruns gave the Panthers a 25-24 lead. Watseka's Kennedy Bauer tipped the ball over the net to tie the game before the Warriors scored the go-ahead point to make the score 26-25.
Bruns tied the game for PBL with a tip over the net before a Watseka hitting error gave the Panthers a 27-26 lead. 
After the Warriors sided out, Mallory Drake recorded a kill to give Watseka a 28-27 lead. From there, the two teams traded sideouts before Watseka scored its 30th point to clinch the match.
“It's crazy. I don't know if my heart has stopped pounding," Muehlbauer said. "I think it's still pounding out of my chest. I don't know if my players who were on the bench were even sitting during set three. It's crazy. I'll probably crash hard tonight once the head hits the pillow. It's fun. You're getting your money's worth.”
The Panthers trailed in each set, including its lone set victory in game two. They started the second game with an 8-5 deficit.
“I would definitely love to have a couple-point cushion here and there, but Watseka's a good team in general. We knew it was going to be back-and-forth, and if we wanted to get a lead, we had to earn our points," Muehlbauer said. "Props to Watseka – they are good. They hustle. They have hard hitters, and they do what we're trying to do.”
Gentzler started game two with a couple of kills to give PBL an early 2-0 lead before Watseka scored eight of the next 11 points. The Panthers rallied with a 4-1 run as an ace by Maria Lemenager tied the game at 9-9. 
The two teams then traded 4-0 runs. After Watseka reclaimed the lead at 13-9, three kills by Gentzler and an ace by Valeree Johnson tied the game at 13-13 for the Panthers. 
After the Warriors scored the next three points, a Bruns kill helped PBL cut its deficit to 16-15. Madison Grohler then recorded a kill to tie the game at 17-17 before Watseka scored the next two points.
Thanks in part to another kill by Grohler and a block by Nuckols, PBL scored the next six points to take a 23-19 lead. After the Warriors rallied back with three straight points, the Panthers sided out on a Watseka service error before Windler recorded a kill to score PBL's game-clinching point.
In game one, kills by Gentzler and Bruns and a block by Nuckols gave PBL an early 5-2 lead before Watseka tied the game at 6-6. Nuckols then recorded a kill that made the score 9-6 in favor of the Panthers.
Windler recorded a kill to give PBL an 11-10 lead before Watseka claimed its first lead of the match at 13-11. Gentzler then recorded a game-tying block before a Bruns kill made the score 15-13 in favor of the Panthers. 
The Warriors then scored 10 of the next 11 points to take a 23-16 lead before a Bruns kill made the score 23-17. Watseka then scored the next two points to clinch game one.
Gentzler finished the match leading the Panthers in kills with nine while Aubree Bruns had eight kills and Nuckols, Grohler and Windler each added a kill. 
Kalista Klann also had 26 assists and 21 digs while Makayla Klann had a team-high 27 digs and Bruns had 13 digs and one assists. Valeree Johnson and Grohler added eight and five digs, respectively, while Kalista Klann and Gentzler each had an ace. 
“I think everybody did a good job tonight," Muehlbauer said. "There were a lot of good touches off the blocks. Cassidi did a great job. Madison does a good job working that down-the-line shot. Makayla Klann does a great job, especially for being a freshman. Kalista keeps her composure out there as a leader. Overall, I think the team did well in general.”
PBL def. Clifton Central 25-14, 25-12
Cassidi Nuckols was PBL's kills leader with five while also recording two blocks in the Panthers' victory over Clifton Central in the SVC Tournament quarterfinals.
Aubree Bruns added four kills and Lindsey Windler and Madison Grohler each had three kills.
Kalista Klann and Ashlee Martin each had three aces while Kalista and Makayla Klann, Bruns, Grohler and Valeree Johnson each had three digs. Kalista Klann also had 15 aces.
Up next
No. 3-seeded PBL will play for third place at 6 p.m. Thursday in Gilman against No. 4-seeded Dwight.
“We want to win in two and we want to play with the same intensity (as we did against Watseka),” Muehlbauer said.
PBL def. Clifton Central 25-14, 25-12
At Gilman 
For PBL, kills: Cassidi Nuckols 5, Aubree Bruns 4, Madison Grohler 3, Lindsey Windler 3; aces: Kalista Klann 4, Ashlee Martin 3; blocks: Nuckols 2; digs: Kalista Klann 3, Bruns 3, Grohler 3, Valeree Johnson 3, Maklaya Klann 3, Nuckols, Windler; assists: Kalista Klann 15.
Watseka def. PBL 25-17, 22-25, 30-28
At Gilman 
For PBL (13-11), kills: Ariana Gentzler 9, Aubree Bruns 8, Cassidi Nuckols 4, Madison Grohler 4, Lindsey Windler 4, Kalista Klann; aces: Kalista Klann, Gentzler; blocks: Nuckols 3, Gentzler, Bruns; digs: Makayla Klann 27, Kalista Klann 21, Bruns 13, Valeree Johnson 8, Grohler 5, Windler 4, Nuckols 2, Gentzler; assists: Kalista Klann 26, Bruns.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports


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