Cardinal hosted Pekin in the first round of the Class 2A region 5 volleyball tournament Tuesday night at Eldon, with the Comets besting the Panthers three games to one.
Out of the gate, it was a close match with the home team eeking out a 25-23 victory in the opening set to take a 1-0 advantage.
“Tonight was important to start strong because if we can keep winning, Coach Harter may be able to return and see us play,” explained Comet senior Madison Guiter.
The second game wasn’t quite as close, but Pekin did lead 9-5 before Cardinal forced the Panthers to call a time out after scoring eight of the next nine points.
The Comets grabbed game two 25-19, but Pekin wasn’t ready to give up hope.
“I’m really proud of my girls, especially coming back after losing those first two sets and pulling out the win in the third set,” said head coach Sara Lane. “Really, the story for us was making more unforced errors than they did and if that stat was reversed, this would have been a completely different match. We would either be playing a fifth set or we would have won in four.”
The final score in the fourth set was 25-22 in favor of the SEISC rivals from the north, but Cardinal was ready to move on to the second round and avoided a fifth game by winning the fourth set 25-19 after leading by as many as nine points.
“We’ve just been focused on Pekin,” admitted Guiter, “but we will start looking at Pella Christian this week.”
The Comets will travel to Pella for their second round match on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
As for Pekin, the Panthers end their season with a 14-15 record.
“The players have given there all, all season,” said Lane. “They have accomplished a lot for such a young team, and the seniors really stepped up to the plate and showed what leadership looks like and how to win and we are all proud of what they accomplished this year.”
Thinking back on her first year, Lane is thankful.
“It’s definitely a learning experience, not just decisions on the court like placement of players, but getting out of the head space of a player and into a coach and learning how to give constructive criticism that will best benefit your players in order to improve over the season. That was the biggest thing for me and I have to say that all of my players have been fantastic support and understand that I’m a first year coach.”