STREATOR – The noise in Lowell “Pops” Dale Gymnasium on Thursday night was deafening. It very well may have decided the Streator Class 3A volleyball regional.
With the three-game thriller between Morris and LaSalle-Peru hanging in the balance, the Redskins’ and Cavaliers’ fans were at a fever pitch when a miscommunication on the side of Morris led to a game-breaker.
Morris ended up serving out of turn after getting a net violation on L-P that temporarily gave the Redskins a late one-point lead. The out-of-rotation serve that ensued gave L-P the point back and the ball. Two service points later, the match ended in favor of the Cavaliers by a 25-9, 25-27, 28-26 outcome.
“It happened fast. We were all hyped up,” Morris junior Alex Kjellesvik said. “We were trying to focus and everything. I don’t know. It happens sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
LaSalle-Peru (31-3) advances to the Princeton Sectional to face Sterling at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Kjellesvik had just served up what looked like the 26th point for Morris and a 26-25 lead on a net call by L-P. That’s when the confusion hit, and instead of Kjellesvik serving what could have been the match point, Kaylin Korte served – to which the referees stopped the action and awarded L-P the point. Shana Puetz then served out the match.
“It was so loud. I like that environment, but the girls couldn’t hear what I was trying to say. I was confirming to them that it was her [Kjellesvik’s] serve and we couldn’t communicate that,” Morris coach Jackie Litwiller said. “I also didn’t have a timeout to use. There was no other way to get the information to them. That it was [Kjellesvik’s] ball to keep serving. It was just a miscommunication. That’s what it was.”
Morris, which knocked out Three Rivers South champion Princeton in Tuesday’s semifinals, trailed in the second game 15-10 before putting on a stunning run in which the Redskins forged a 20-all tie. Then, in the final game, the two teams were tied 14 times before the miscommunication at the end.
Korte ended with nine kills, an ace and 16 digs; Abby Baker had six kills and two blocks; Morgan Hussey had 18 digs and an assist; JoAnna Nowicki had five kills and 14 digs; Taya Torkelson had 25 assists, an ace and six digs; and Cara Cummings had five kills.
“We never gave up,” Kjellesvik said. “We kept fighting, came together as a team and played to the end. We fought for everything. It sucks to lose, but it happens. We played our hearts out tonight.”
Morris ends the season at 19-15-1.
• Notes: Sterling (26-7) defeated Belvidere 25-21, 25-9 at Stillman Valley to punch its ticket to Princeton. Tuesday’s second semifinal at Prouty Gym will feature Sycamore (16-17) vs. Dunlap (13-18) at 7 p.m. The championship will be decided at 7 p.m. Thursday.
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