KNOXVILLE — It had been nine days since the Knoxville Lady Panthers had been on the court and they returned in style with a three set win over the maroon and gold Panthers from Mt. Pleasant. Knoxville used a powerful hitting attack and a solid serving game to quickly subdue the Panthers from the east.
In the opening set, the Lady Panthers broke away from a 2-2 tie with a sizzling kill by Brittany Bacorn that gave the serve to Reilly Finarty. With Finarty at the line, Knoxville took a 6-2 lead as Bacorn hammered a pair of kills to the floor and Charlee Heffron added another kill.
With Knoxville leading 8-4, Bacorn stepped to the service line and reeled off five more points to give the home team a comfortable 13-4 lead. That run featured a pair of ace serves by Bacorn and a kill by Melanie Sullivan. From that point Knoxville coasted into victory lane with three consecutive ace serves by Alyssa Vaske, two kills by Bacorn, kills by Tara Uitermarkt and Heffron and a game ending ace by Finarty for a 25-13 win.
In game two, the Lady Panthers took control early with a 15-5 run. Marley McKay fueled that run with a seven-point service run in which Sullivan had a pair of vicious kills and Finarty and Abby Wadle added kills and McKay zipped an ace serve through the Mt. Pleasant defense. Another long service run by Emma Dunkin finished the game. In that run, Bacorn had a pair of booming kills and Dunkin put the cap on a 25-11 win with an ace serve.
In game three, the Panthers from Mt. Pleasant tried desperately to stay with hometown Panthers, but after a 7-7 tie, Knoxville methodically pulled away. MP made a last gasp effort to close the gap to 22-20, but a pair of kills by Ella Breazeale and a kill by Bacorn dropped the final curtain on a 25-20 Knoxville win.
“We hadn’t played for nine days and we needed to get on the court,” Knoxville coach Mollie Keitges said. “It was important that we play a good team and Mt. Pleasant was a good team. We passed and set the ball very well and that kept them from making runs at us. Our hitters were taking more aggressive swings and their confidence is building. And I was proud of our servers as we had only two serving errors.”
In the serving stats, Finarty was 15-of-15 with an ace, McKay was 15-of-16 with an ace and Vaske was 9-of-9 with four aces. Bacorn led the team in kills with 15, Heffron had six kills and three blocks and Sullivan added six kills. Maggie Wilkins was a digging machine as she dug out 39 balls and McKay chipped in with 31 assists.
Knoxville’s record now sets at 18-3 and they head to Pella Saturday for the Pella tournament. Next Tuesday they host Centerville in a match that will give them their fourth consecutive South Central Conference title with a win.