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When asked what to expect at tonight’s Class 2A Bureau Valley Super-Sectional, the senior outsider hitter on the Fieldcrest volleyball team wasn’t certain.
“I have no idea,” Petersen said with a laugh. “But we’re all really excited to find out.”
After the Lady Knights won the first sectional title in program history on Thursday, Fieldcrest aims to take the next step at 7 tonight when the Lady Knights (32-4-1) play Fulton (15-17-3) in the super-sectional with a berth to state at stake.
“It’s going to be one of the coolest things that has ever happened,” Fieldcrest senior setter Gracie Wiesenhofer said. “We just need to play our game.”
The winner will advance to the Class 2A state tournament, which starts next Friday at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal.
“I think they are excited and if they could just play and skip practice they would just play,” Fieldcrest coach Cathy Sanders said of her team,
Fieldcrest and Fulton have taken separate paths to tonight’s super-sectional.
The Lady Knights have had a dominant, record-setting season. Fieldcrest finished second in the Heart of Illinois Conference and in the HOIC Tournament, both times finishing as the runner-up to Dee-Mack, the defending Class 2A state champion which is playing tonight in the Warrensburg-Latham Super-Sectional.
Fulton, on the other hand, has had a renaissance over the past few weeks.
After the Steamers struggled to start the season, they shuffled up the roster and brought some sophomores up to the varsity.
The changes have worked as — despite entering tonight’s game with a losing record — Fulton, which finished tied for fourth in the Three Rivers Conference North Division, won the Riverdale Regional and the Farmington Sectional.
“We really had high hopes for a better record — we were hoping for a 20-plus win season — but it just didn’t pan out that way in the beginning,” Fulton coach Stacy Germann said. “We eventually realized that we needed a little more help so we pulled up a couple of sophomores. Later on in the season, we finally got comfortable with those new rotations and that’s when we really started producing.
“Now it’s kind of like we’re a new team. The first half of our season doesn’t really reflect what we are. Now, they are focused and they are reaping the benefits of what they have worked so hard for.”
Fulton has been fueled in the postseason by the play of its front line, which includes junior outside hitter Chelsea Lesniewski, sophomore middle hitter Betsy Leonard and junior middle hitter Rachael Beiermann as well as senior right-side hitter Ann Renkes and junior right-side hitter Jamie Huennekens.
“They are going to be aggressive and they are going to come out with a play-to-win attitude,” Sanders said. “I expect this to be a good match and I expect them to be scrappy and aggressive, and I hope (my girls) are ready for it.”
Especially with a berth to the state tournament so close.
“The girls have taken it all in stride, and it's a day-by-day, game-by-game and point-by-point kind of thing,” Sanders said. "I think they have handled it really well, and we've just tried to keep a routine. They know it's a big game, but they are handling it very well.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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