CISSNA PARK -- Even though her team won 25-16 in the first set of one of its Timberwolf Tip-Off championship pool-play matches on Saturday, Paxton-Buckley-Loda head coach Lindsay Stalowy knew Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley would provide a challenge in the second set.
“We knew that they weren’t going to lay down and die. I feel like our rivalry with GCMS in volleyball has been growing over the years, especially under (GCMS coach Taylor) Rubarts," Stalowy said. "She’s done a really good job of getting the most out of her players. We knew it was going to be back-and-forth, so we weren’t surprised to see them start out strong in the second set.”
Following a timeout, Panthers overcame a 19-16 deficit in that second set en route to a 25-21 victory. As a result, PBL claimed the tournament's championship.
Addison Oyer started the rally with a kill before a tip block by Abbie Schmidt tied the game at 19-19. Makenna Klann recorded two aces -- one of which gave PBL a 20-19 lead, and the other extended that lead to 23-19.
After GCMS sided out, Oyer had another kill to make the score 24-20. Jessica Freehill tipped the ball over the net to give the Falcons a side out before the Panthers tallied their match-clinching point on a counter sideout.
“I just told them to regroup, that it’s OK," Stalowy said. "There was still plenty of time left in the game for us to side out and earn our points. That’s really all we said during the timeout. There wasn’t anything crazy that we needed to fix. It was just two good volleyball teams going back and forth, so we just needed to regroup and push on from there.”
After PBL (5-0) gained a 1-0 lead in the first set, Oyer and GCMS's Emily Clinton exchanged kills before two kills by Brooke Walder helped the Panthers extend their lead to 8-1. A Freehill kill cut GCMS's deficit to 9-4 before a kill by Hannah Schwarz extended PBL's lead to 11-5.
Two aces by Lindsey Heinz cut the Falcons' deficit to 11-8, Jasmine Miles and Walder each recorded a kill to help extend the Panthers' advantage to 15-8.
Kira Fuoss recorded a kill for GCMS before a tip by Walder made the score 16-10. The Panthers scored two more points to extend their lead before Freehill picked up a couple of kills and Oyer and Walder each recorded a kill to make the score 20-12.
Heinz and Mady Schutte recorded a block and Freehill recorded a kill to make the score 22-15 before a kill by Oyer extended PBL's lead to 23-15.
After a Freehill kill, Oyer and Miles each recorded a kill to end the first game.
"We came out a little flat in the first set, and I think it was jitters of being in the championship game, but in the second set, we really settled in and played the way we’re capable (of playing)," GCMS head coach Taylor Rubarts said.
After PBL started the second set with a 1-0 lead, Emily Clinton recorded a couple of kills to start a run that gave GCMS a 5-1 advantage.
Miles and Oyer each recorded a kill to cut PBL's deficit to 5-4 before the Falcons scored three straight points to make the score 8-4.
The Panthers scored three straight points of their own, including a block by Walder and a kill by Oyer, before Schutte recorded a kill to extend GCMS's lead to 9-7.
Schward and Freehill exchanged kills to make the score 11-8 before a block by Oyer started another three-point run that tied the game at 11-11. The two teams traded sideouts three times, a run that included kills by Clinton, Oyer and Baylee Cosgrove before a kill by Oyer gave the Panthers the lead at 15-14.
Clinton tipped the ball over the net to tie the game at 15-15 for the Falcons (4-1) before a block by Walder gave PBL a 16-15 lead. Freehill recorded two kills and Heinz recorded a block to help give GCMS its 19-16 lead.
“After the first set, we just talked about intensity and making sure that we were matching their intensity," Rubarts said. “If we play that way the rest of the season, it’s going to be a really fun season.”
Makayla Klann finished the match with 13 digs, one ace and one assist while Oyer had 13 kills and two digs and Schmidt had 18 assists, one kill, four digs and one ace.
After the match, the trio would be named to the all-tournament team.
“Makayla, Abbie and Addison always do a great job physically for us on the court. I’m not shocked that they earned all-tournament team (honors)," Stalowy said. "I’m happy for them. Each of them deserve it in their own right. They’ve been great players last year for us and are already off to a great start for us this year. I’m happy for them. They earned that.”
Meanwhile, Freehill (12 kills) and Schutte (15 assists) were named to the all-tournament team as well.
“Mady Schutte has been our setter since she was a sophomore. She does a really nice job being a leader on the floor vocally and just distributing the ball to the setter," Rubarts said.
“Jessica’s come a really long way with her passing. She’s now somebody we can rely on in the back row, and then (to be) our go-to in the front row. She does a really great job of putting the ball down and scoring points for us, which is what we really need her to do.”
The win over GCMS was PBL's second of the day as they played in championship pool play. In a 25-13, 25-10 win over Kankakee, Oyer led in kills with seven while Makenna Klann, Carly Mutchmore and Jaden Bender each had two aces, Makayla Klann had 13 digs and Schmidt had nine assists.
“I think it helps us build a little confidence in ourselves," Stalowy said. "I think it’s just refreshing and a confidence booster moving into next week’s matches.”
In the Falcons' earlier championship pool-play match, they defeated Kankakee 25-17, 25-21 en route to their second-place finish.
Freehill had 12 kills while Schutte had 16 assists and nine digs. Freehill and Fuoss each had three assists while Fuoss scored nine service points.
“I think it gave the girls a lot of confidence moving forward — that the work they put in all summer is finally being shown. They’ve put in a ton of work, and to get second place in a tournament they haven’t been in, it’s just going to help them succeed throughout the rest of the season.”
On Tuesday, PBL and GCMS will meet each other again in Gibson City. The Panthers will face Watseka on the road on Thursday, Rantoul at home the following Monday and St. Thomas More at Champaign the next Tuesday.
The Falcons, meanwhile, will travel to face Deer Creek-Mackinaw on Monday, Sept. 9, before playing at Flanagan-Cornell on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
PBL def. GCMS 25-16, 25-20
At Cissna Park
For GCMS, kills: Jessica Freehill 12; aces: Lindsey Heinz 2; blocks: Heinz 2; digs: Kira Fuoss 8; assists: Mady Schutte 15; service points: Fuoss 5, Molly Kroon 5.
For PBL, kills: Addison Oyer 13, Brooke Walder 8, Jasmine Miles 4, Hannah Schwarz 3, Baylee Cosgrove 2, Abbie Schmidt; aces: Makenna Klann 3, Makayla Klann, Schmidt; digs: Makayla Klann 13, Carly Mutchmore 13, Schmidt 4, Oyer 2, Walder 2, Jaden Bender 2, Makenna Klann 2; assists: Schmidt 18, , Makenna Klann 9, Makayla Klann, Cosgrove.
PBL def. Kankakee 25-13, 25-10
At Cissna Park
For PBL (5-0), kills: Addison Oyer 7, Baylee Cosgrove 2, Brooke Walder 2, Hannah Schwarz 2, Jasmine Miles, Makayla Klann, Abbie Schmidt; aces: Makenna Klann 2, Carly Mutchmore 2, Jaden Bender 2, Makayla Klann, Oyer, Kendra Johnson; digs: Makayla Klann 13, Schmidt 4, Makenna Klann 3, Mutchmore 2, Sydney Murphy 2, Oyer, Cosgrove, Bender; assists: Schmidt 9, Makenna Klann 5, Makayla Klann, Cosgrove.
GCMS def. Kankakee 25-17, 25-21
At Cissna Park
For GCMS (4-1), kills: Jessica Freehill 12; aces: Freehill 3, Kira Fuoss 3; digs: Mady Schutte 9; assists: Schutte 16; service points: service points: Fuoss 9.