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Putnam County junior setter Paige Griffith (left) watches as senior hitter Taylor Pettit (No. 6) bumps the ball as junior hitter Kirsten Davis ducks out of the way Wednesday during the Lady Panthers’ 25-19, 25-22 victory over Roanoke-Benson in a Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinal at Midland High School in Varna. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Putnam County senior Taylor Erjasvek hits the ball Wednesday during the Lady Panthers’ 25-19, 25-22 victory over Roanoke-Benson in a Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinal in Varna. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
VARNA — Entering the season, one of the Putnam County volleyball team’s goals was to win three tournament championships.
The Lady Panthers have already claimed titles at the Somonauk and Windsor tournaments, so they need just one more to achieve their goal.
Putnam County gave itself an opportunity to earn that third championship with a 25-19, 25-22 victory Wednesday over Roanoke-Benson in a Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinal at Midland.
“I think we were a little rattled at the beginning,” PC coach Amy Kreiser said. “It was a rough day for the girls and it took them a while to settle in, but they knew what their goal was. They wanted to make it to the ship, and we’re there and we’re excited for a busy day Saturday.”
The No. 1-seeded Lady Panthers will face No. 3-seeded Midland at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship match after spending the morning playing pool play matches in the Lanark tournament.
“The girls are excited to play Saturday and they want that,” Kreiser said. “We have come out on top for our last two tournaments and we’re excited to go to Lanark and play in pool play and get warmed up to come back here to play in the ship.” Midland earned its spot in the title match with a 25-9, 25-20 victory over Peoria Christian.
The Lady Panthers defeated the Lady Timberwolves 25-23, 25-17 on Oct. 10 in Granville.
“We have to watch (senior outside hitter) Anna Crank. She does really well,” PC junior setter Paige Griffith said. “She hits the ball hard and she has great control. If she gets a hold of one, it’s kind of hard stopping her, but our blocking did well when we played them on Senior Night. We have to watch her and their setters are pretty good also.”
The Lady Panthers (21-2-1) earned their spot in the championship by overcoming a sluggish start in the first set and a five-point deficit in the second set.
In the first set, Roanoke-Benson’s first three points came off service errors by PC, but the Lady Panthers eventually settled in and took the lead for good at 15-14.
The Lady Rockets built a 12-7 lead in the second set before Griffith slammed down a kill to spark a 5-0 PC rally to tie the set at 13-13.
“I was really angry because I messed up a couple times before,” Griffith said of the kill. “Like I told (setter) Megan (Rehn), I should give her a thank you card for that set because it was very good. The block wasn’t there and they run a middle up (defense), so their two back defenders, you hit it right in between them and they just collide.”
The set was tied three more times before PC took the lead for good on a Griffith tip.
“We didn’t get in our heads,” Griffith said about how PC rallied. “I know I made plenty of mistakes tonight that I usually don’t, but I just tried to shake it off and make the next play.
“We were a little (sluggish) coming out, but we put it all together. We played from behind a lot, so I’m proud that we kept on pushing and got the lead back. … We wanted to get to the ship. We were very intense tonight. I’m very happy with how we ended up.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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