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PAXTON -- After winning 25-11, 25-22 over Iroquois West in its first match of the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Volleyball Classic on Wednesday, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley was in a tight battle with Milford in its second match.

This time, the Falcons fell short as Milford won 23-25, 26-24, 17-15.

“It was definitely a momentum game. Both teams were extremely scrappy," GCMS head coach Taylor Rubarts said. "Not a lot hit the floor. We’re very evenly-matched teams. Of course, we would have liked to have pulled that off, but it was a very solid game for us.”

In the first game, the score was tied 23-23 before Jessica Freehill recorded a kill to give the Falcons a 24-23 lead. GCMS then tallied its 25th point on the next volley.

Emily Clinton recorded a kill to tie the first set at 1-1 before GCMS (13-9) took a 2-1 lead. Milford scored four straight points before Mady Schutte and Freehill each recorded a kill to make the score 5-3 and 6-4, respectively.

Freehill tallied another kill and Lindsey Heinz recorded a block to help GCMS erase a 8-5 deficit and tie the game at 8-8. Heinz and Payton Allen recorded a block to give the Falcons a 10-9 lead.

“Our blocking was probably the strongest I’ve seen it all season, and then

there’s was, too," Rubarts said.

Milford sided out before GCMS scored six straight points, including another kill by Freehill and an ace by Kira Fuoss. Kills by Clinton and Rylee Tompkins helped extend a 16-14 GCMS lead to 20-14.

A tip by Allen made the score 21-15. After Milford scored the next five points, Schutte recorded a kill and Heinz tallied a block before Milford tied the game at 23-23.

“Those are the things we’ve been talking about working on – those close matches and those close games, really pulling it out and making those clutch plays," Rubarts said. "We had some girls who were just scrappy. They went for balls that they don’t typically go for, and that’s what kept us in the game. Those are games, going into these last couple of weeks of regular-season play, that are going to push us to compete in the postseason.”

Allen recorded a kill in the second set to tie it at 1-1. After Milford took a 4-2 lead, Freehill recorded two kills, Heinz tallied a block and Molly Kroon recorded two aces to help give GCMS a 9-4 advantage.

Freehill recorded a kill to make the score 11-6 before Milford scored eight straight points to take the lead at 14-11. Heinz recorded a block to start a 5-1 run that gave the Falcons a 16-15 lead.

The Bearcats reclaimed the lead at 21-16 and 23-18 before GCMS erased its 24-20 deficit thanks to two kills by Freehill and one by Clinton. From there, however, Milford scored the next two points to break a 24-24 tie and clinch the set.

Heinz recorded a block to help the Falcons erase a 4-2 deficit in the third set.

After the Bearcats reclaimed the lead at 6-4, Clinton recorded a block to help GCMS tie the game again at 6-6.

Freehill recorded side-out kills make the score 12-10 and 13-11 in favor of Milford. The Falcons claimed the lead at 15-14 before the Bearcats scored the next three points to claim the set and the match.