KNOXVILLE -- The Knoxville Panthers have ruled the South Central Conference volleyball standings for the past three years and their play Tuesday night on the home court indicated that they have their sights clearly set on a four-peat. The Panthers wasted little time as they went through the visiting EBF defense like a hot knife through butter in a three game sweep. The game scores were 25–9, 25–12 and 25–18.
The play of the Panthers brought a feeling of pride for their coach, Molly Keitges.
“We are playing very good volleyball right now,” Keitges said. “More than ever before, we are using our depth. Our kids coming off the bench did a fine job. That depth creates a better practice atmosphere and it will really help us as we look to post season play.”
In all three games it was the serving presence of Marley McKay that broke things the way of the Panthers. McKay was a perfect 30-for-30 from the line and she nailed four ace serves. McKay also dished out 24 assists in the contest.
In game one the score was tied at 4–4 when a kill by Amy Sullivan sent McKay to the service line. McKay reeled off the next 12 points to put her team firmly in control with a 17–4 lead. In the run the Panthers had kills from Brittany Bacorn, Reilly Finarty, Maggie Wilkins, Sullivan and McKay.
In game two the Rockets were still in the game but trailing 8–5 when again McKay put the game on ice. A Rocket hitting error gave McKay the serve and this time it was a seven serve run that put Knoxville in control at 16–5. Finarty had the only kill in the run, but McKay added a pair of ace serves.
In game three it was the same song only the third verse. EBF battled to stay with the Panthers and had tied the game at 6–6 behind a pair of kills by Brooke Shafer and a kill by Whitney Klyn. A kill by Tara Uitermarkt gave the serve to McKay and soon the Panthers were leading 13–6 and on their way to a sweep.
”Our passing is not consistent,” EBF coach Gladys Genskow said. "We cannot run our offense unless we execute the pass and the set and we are struggling with that. We played well in the weekend tournament and then tonight, not so well. But Knoxville had something to do with that. All we can do is to go back to the basics and keep on fighting.”
Other stat leaders for the Panthers beyond McKay’s line were Finarty with nine kills, Bacorn with seven kills and 14 digs and Wilkins with 22 digs.
Shafer led the Rockets with four kills and a block, Klyn added three kills, Ruth Gutch and Paige Harter each had a block and a kill, Cooper Champoux had a block, a kill and an ace and Sarah Schutt added a kill and a block.
Knoxville will be at the Pella Christian tourney Saturday while the Rockets are off until next Tuesday when they host Davis County.