Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Metamora Volleyball gets 2-set win over Pekin; Begole key in win

The Metamora Redbirds celebrate after getting match point to beat the Pekin Dragons in two sets.
Pekin, Ill. - The first thing you see when you walk into Dawdy Hawkins Gym in Pekin for a volleyball match is that the net is offset from the court, but that was just a mere feature of the gym, as the Metamora Redbirds (5-9) (1-3) were taking on the Pekin Dragons (12-3-1) (4-1).

The Redbirds got off to a good start on the road, with an ace from junior Haylee Davis (5'8" libero) putting the visitors up 3-1. A kill from Alivia West (6'0" senior middle blocker) made it 5-2, but back came Pekin. With junior outside hitter Emma Clark serving, the Dragons took their first lead at 7-6 in the first set.

Pekin would go on a 8-4 run from that point, eventually forcing the Redbirds' Head Coach Tara Ballard to call her first timeout, with Pekin ahead, 15-10, their largest lead at that point.

It seemed to go back-and-forth from there, as a big swing that Pekin recovers, then a set that the Dragons couldn't get to, both from Reagan Begole, had Metamora within one, 15-14.

Begole followed that with yet another kill (she'd wind up with the team lead by the end of the match). This kill tied things up at 15, and had the Redbirds on a 5-0 run out of the timeout.

Yvonne Thompson, in her 19th season at Pekin, was forced to call a timeout when a block from either Begole or Olivia Alread (6'0" senior middle blocker) put the Redbirds up 17-15.

Begole and Kelsey Todd (5'9" sophomore outside hitter) were working the outside well, pacing Metamora to an eventual 19-15 lead.

The Redbirds would go on a 6-2 run from there to finish off the set with a 25-17 opening set win.

This set did not get off to as great of a start for the Redbirds, but it still managed to stay within reach. A timeout by Coach Ballard with the score at 17-12 Pekin had things seeming like Pekin was going to force a third set.

Seemed like. A couple of aces from Begole plus another Redbird point forced Coach Thompson to use a timeout, with the Dragons leading 19-18.

This was when the Redbirds really put the foot on the gas, taking a 8-5 run through the end of the match. After the Dragons used their final timeout of the set, they eventually worked it to set point, but Metamora had other ideas, tying it up at 24. It was going to take more than 25 points for this match to either go to a third set or for Metamora to win the match.

On the very next point, the Redbirds got match point. Maddie Case (5'5" senior setter) set it up for Begole, who sent it down for the kill and the win, 2-0 (25-17, 26-24).

This match carried some significance on both sides, as it was Pekin's first conference loss and Metamora's first non-tournament conference win.

The Redbirds are off from match play for a day before hosting rival Washington on Thursday at the usual 7:00 pm start time from Toepke Gym.

Pekin Statistical Leaders:
Kills | Emma Clark (6)
Assists | Logan Finneran (8)
Digs | Olivia Evans (12)
Blocks | Anna McGovern & Kerrigan Link (1.5 each)
Aces | Olivia Evans & Emma Clark (2 each)
Stats courtesy of Pekin Head Coach Yvonne Thompson

Kills | Reagan Begole (7)
Assists | Maddie Case (11)
Digs | Haylee Davis (10)
Blocks | Reagan Begole (4)
Aces | Haylee Davis (3)
Stats courtesy of Metamora Assistant Coach Ann Cowling

They Said It - Pekin HC Yvonne Thompson:
On her team's effort tonight
"We never had it tonight. We did not, at all, play up to our potential."

On what caused things to turn the opposite direction
"We're not used to a slower pace attacking-wise, we're used to a much faster pace. Sometimes, that can go to your advantage and your disadvantage. Tonight, Metamora kept the ball in play. We couldn't even get the ball over the net."

They Said It - Metamora HC Tara Ballard
On Reagan Begole tonight
"She really stepped up. Not just hitting, but also running balls down defensively. That was huge. That's what we need to see out of our senior leaders."

On the team's versatility
"We have lots of people that can put the ball away, lots of people who are athletic. Tonight, that really, really showed."

On the win
"I'm just glad that we finally got a non-tournament, conference win. That's what I'm excited about."

On the key(s) to victory
"I think we played together and we fought the whole way through."

Next Metamora Varsity Volleyball Matches:
Thursday, September 20th - vs. Washington - 7:00 pm
Tuesday, September 25th - vs. Canton - 7:00 pm
Thursday, September 27th - vs. East Peoria - 7:00 pm
Saturday, September 29th - Sterling Invitational - All Day

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