PBL eighth-grade volleyball sets school record for wins with three-set victory in IESA Class 3A Hoopeston Area Regional title match

HOOPESTON -- With a 25-18, 15-25, 25-21 victory Wednesday in the IESA Class 3A Hoopeston Area Regional championship match, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda claimed its third consecutive regional title.
The win also improved the Panthers' record to 20-1 as the team broke the eighth- and seventh-grade school record for most wins in a season.
“They knew that was kind of out there, along with that regional trophy," PBL eighth-grade coach Kelli Vaughn said. “They've been a great group all year long. They've been together all year long. They're just a great group of kids and a really good team.”
The previous mark was set in 2004 with a 19-1 record, and this year's PBL eighth-grade team needed a rally against Westville to set the record as it trailed 21-18 in the third set.
“We had to work hard for that one. It was a dogfight. You've got to give Westville a lot of credit. Their kids played hard," Vaughn said. “Throughout the year, we haven't been tested a lot of times, so it kind of shows that we were resilient enough to hang in there.”
The rally started with kills by Addison Oyer and Kendra Johnson that reduced Westville's lead to 21-20.
“Addison had a big kill," Vaughn said. "Kendra had a big kill.”
After tallying the tying point, PBL took the lead at 22-21 via an ace by Carly Mutchmore. On the next volley, a spike by Makenna Ecker stayed inbounds for a kill that extended the Panthers' lead to 23-21.
“We've been working on that in practice, especially over the last couple of weeks because a lot of times, if you can hit down the line and hit a corner, you're going to score, so it was great to see what we had worked on in practice materializing in a game situation," Vaughn said.
Kendra Johnson then spiked the ball down the line for another kill that made the score 24-21.
“We've just been working on that, so to see that come to life in the regional championship match when the game's on the line, that was just thrilling for me," Vaughn said.
A hitting error by Westville then led to the match-clinching point.
“We gave the fans their money's worth," Vaughn said. "They just stuck together.”
Ecker recorded a block and a kill to help PBL gain a 3-1 lead in the third set before a kill by Oyer broke a 3-3 tie and started a 4-0 run that included another kill by Oyer.
After Westville took an 8-7 lead, Oyer recorded a kill to tie the game and tallied a service ace to give PBL a 9-8 lead. A tip by Maisy Johnson extended the Panthers' lead to 11-8.
Another kill by Oyer -- who finished the match leading PBL in kills with 13 while also recording two aces, 10 points and 37 passing points -- extended the Panthers' lead to 15-12.
Oyer also recorded a kill to give PBL a 17-16 before Westville went on a 5-1 run.
In the first set, Oyer recorded a kill to make the score 1-1 before Westville took a 4-1 lead. Another kill by Oyer and an ace by Sydney Murphy -- who finished the match with 21 assists, 99 sets, 10 points and 23 passing points -- helped PBL tie game one at 4-4 before Westville reclaimed the lead at 6-4.
A kill by Kendra Johnson -- who finished with six kills, one stuff block, eight points and 11 passing points -- reduced a Westville lead from 8-5 to 8-6. 
After Westville sided out, two aces by Mutchmore -- who finished with one kill, four aces, 19 points and 66 passing points -- keyed a 6-0 run, including a Kendra Johnson kill that made the score 11-9 in favor of PBL. By the end of the run, the Panthers led 12-9.
Westville sided out before PBL went on a 5-0 run to extend its lead to 17-10. A kill by Oyer made the score 22-14 before Maisy Johnson recorded a block for a Panthers sideout that extended their lead to 23-15.
“We may not have played the best that we've played all year in this regional, but somehow, we got it done, and I'm just very proud of them," Vaughn said.
Westville started game two with a 9-1 lead before kills by Oyer and Maisy Johnson -- who finished the match with two kills, one block and two passing points -- helped PBL reduce its deficit to 9-4.
Oyer recorded a kill to stop a 4-0 run by Westville and cut the Panthers' deficit to 13-5. Another kill and an ace by Oyer reduced PBL's deficit to 14-7. 
A kill by Kendra Johnson made the score 23-12 before Westville scored two of the next five points to clinch game two.
"When we're having fun, things go well, but then we got a little tight in the second set," Vaughn said. "In that third set, we battled until the end, and we pulled it off. I've got to give them credit. They just got it done, and that's been the mark of this team all year long.”
Ecker finished the match with three kills, a stuff block, 11 points and 15 passing points. Lillie Frichtl had five points and 45 passing points, Emma Steiner had one point and Lorena Arnett had 22 passing points.
The Panthers will seek their first state appearance since 2010 as they play in the Bishop McNamara Sectional at Kankakee at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
“If any team's capable of going to the state tournament, this team is," Vaughn said. "If we just continue to play together and work hard, we've got a great shot on Monday night. I would love nothing more than to take another group back to the state tournament. It's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.”
8th-grade girls
PBL def. Westville 25-18, 14-25, 25-21
At Hoopeston
For PBL (20-1), kills: Addison Oyer 13, Kendra Johnson 6, Makenna Ecker 3, Maisy Johnson 2, Carly Mutchmore; aces: Mutchmore 4, Oyer 2; blocks: Kendra Johnson, Ecker, Maisy Johnson; assists: Sydney Murphy 21; sets: Murphy 99; points: Mutchmore 19, Ecker 11, Murphy 10, Oyer 10, Kendra Johnson 8, Lillie Frichtl 5, Emma Steiner; passing points: Mutchmore 66, Frichtl 45, Oyer 37, Murphy 23, Lorena Arnett 22, Ecker 15, Kendra Johnson 11, Maisy Johnson 2.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports


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