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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 17, 2017

Pekin claims conference title in five sets

By Justin Webster | Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: Justin Webster Pekin’s Maci Gambell spikes the ball over the net Thursday against Highland.

By Justin Webster,

Ledger sports editor

 

PACKWOOD – Pekin volleyball took five sets Thursday to claim an SEISC title over Highland on senior night. Game scores were: 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 20-25 and 16-14.

Panther head coach Ken Hutchinson explained his team’s early issues despite winning game one 25-21.

“I just thought everybody was kind of locked in on that adrenaline high from senior night, he said. “We go on a couple of those runs where we’re on top of the world, but when we start making a couple of mistakes, we tighten up real quick. That happened in set one, and led into set two big time.”

Highland stole game two 25-21, and it was obvious Pekin was in for a fight.

“I thought that we struggled mightily in the second set on serve receive, but again, we have this issue where somebody makes a mistake and we’re not doing a very good job of picking each other up,” added Coach Hutchinson. “So one girl made a mistake, or makes two mistakes, and we just kind of left her out on an island by herself. Then when that happens to the next person, they’re out on an island all by themselves.”

The Panthers started passing well again, which Coach Hutchinson said is key to their success.

“We had a couple of nice serving runs in set three, and we had a couple of decent passes that really allowed us to get some aggressive kills,” he said. “We’re a very emotional type team, when we’re hitting the ball really well, we’re competing with anybody.”

The two teams traded sets three and four, each ending 25-20. That set up a sprint for the fifth set, which forced Coach Hutchinson to get real with his team.

“I felt that the fifth set came down to what we talked about before we went out there, you lose this game, you lose the conference championship. What do you want to do?”

The Panthers wanted the title, and forged a 16-14 victory, claiming the SEISC crown. Now that Pekin can start looking towards the playoffs, Hutchinson says he can focus on strengthening his teams weaknesses.

“If things fall into place, and we can pass the ball better off serve receive, and get back into blocking and attacking, I think we can compete with anybody in our region. If we can’t pass the ball, and if we start dipping, our first round game versus Sigourney or Cardinal is going be a fight.” Saturday the Panthers play in the Mt. Pleasant tournament before closing the regular season out at Iowa Mennonite on Tuesday.

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