The IMS volleyball team defeated the Pekin Panthers for the first time in three years last evening at Pekin. “This win was a gratifying close out to regular season conference play. This win lifts the team’s confidence going into post-season play,” coach Shannon Miller said.
IMS won 27-25, 26-24, and 25-14. “We have been working hard in practice to get over the hill and not give up leads. This involves not only skill preparation, but mental preparation as well. I was very pleased with the team’s performance last night. They played every point to the fullest, and never gave up!” coach Miller stated.
IMS took an early 2-0 lead in the first set, and led until Pekin pushed the score to 4-7. Mia Graber started serving at 5-7, and turned that into a five point run. IMS had set point at 24-21, but allowed the Panthers to creep back into the set and tie the score at 25-25. However, behind strong defensive play from Avery Blauvelt and a kill by Alijah Beatty, at 26-25, IMS was able to close out the set 27-25.
Highlighted by a seven point come back from IMS, and winning long rallies, IMS won a thrilling second set 26-24. Rubye Ney had a solo block and Alijah Beatty serve an ace to facilitate IMS closing the score to 22-23. The Panthers reached set point at 23-24, but with strong serving from Rachel Miller, taking Pekin out of system, and a final kill by Mia Graber, IMS staged their most impressive comeback of the season, winning the set 26-24.
Pekin started the third set with an ace, but IMS opened up the lead at 2-1 and did not relinquish it the remainder of the set. The match ended when Pekin committed an out-of-rotation error.
“This was an exceptionally good win. However, I feel the most important aspect of tonight, was the team demonstrating to themselves, that they can win close sets, and to never, ever, give up,” coach Miller emphatically said.
Statistical leaders for the evening were: Alijah Beatty with 32 assists, Mia Graber with 13 kills and Rachel Miller with 16 digs.
Next up for IMS is the first round of regional play at Lone Tree on Tuesday, October 18th at 7:00 p.m.