GIBSON CITY -- The Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley volleyball teams played two matches against each other in a span of four days.
The matches produced a combined five sets, including PBL's 25-17, 25-27, 25-19 victory on Tuesday in a rematch of the de facto championship match in the previous Saturday's Timberwolf Tip-Off.
“It was interesting, to say the least. It had me on the edge the whole time, and I knew it would," PBL head coach Lindsay Stalowy said. "I knew that they always have a good fanbase. Coach (Taylor) Rubarts is continuously getting those players to improve. I knew it was going to be a tight, close match. Obviously, I am thrilled that we came out on top.”
For its second straight match, PBL rallied from a deficit in its final set.
In the third set on Tuesday, GCMS led 12-11 before Jasmine Miles recorded a kill to tie the set at 12-12. Payton Allen then recorded a kill and an ace to help the Falcons reclaim the lead at 15-12.
During that third set, Emily Clinton went down, as GCMS head coach Taylor Rubarts said she was "feeling light-headed (and) like she was going to pass out."
“She wasn’t feeling so hot, so we decided to sit her and hope that she got to feeling better," Rubarts said.
Payton Allen stepped into Clinton's role as an outside hitter while Rylee Tompkins shifted to the right side and Molly Kroon switched to the middle-hitting role.
“They did a really nice job filling in," Rubarts said.
Kills by Addison Oyer and Brooke Walder cut PBL's deficit to 15-14 and 16-15, respectively. Oyer then recorded a block to extend the Panthers' lead to 18-16 and another kill to make the score 20-17.
Tips over the net by Abbie Schmidt extended PBL leads to 21-18 and 23-19 before a kill by Miles clinched the match via the 25th point.
“I’m really pleased with how my players compete," Stalowy said. "They don’t give up on themselves. They don’t give up on their teammates. That’s what makes any set that is close fun because I know I can count on my team to go out and just compete and play their game.”
Miles recorded a block to tie the first set at 1-1. After GCMS took a 4-3 lead, Baylee Cosgrove recorded a kill to cut PBL's deficit to 4-3 before three kills by Jessica Freehill helped the Falcons extend their lead to 7-4.
Another kill by Oyer cut PBL's deficit to 7-6. After Freehll recorded a kill, Oyer tallied another kill to tie the set at 8-8 before the Panthers took the lead at 9-8.
Three kills by Clinton and one by Mady Schutte broke a 10-10 tie and gave GCMS a 14-10 lead before kills by Walder and Schmitt helped PBL go on a 6-0 run to take a 16-14 lead.
An ace by Makayla Klann made the score 23-16 as PBL ended the first set on a 9-3 run.
Two Schmidt aces, another ace by Carly Mutchmore and kills by Oyer and Walder gave PBL a 6-4 lead. After GCMS sided out, Oyer and the Falcons' Lindsey Heinz had a kill and a block, respectively, to make the score 7-6.
A Schmidt ace made the score 13-7 and an Oyer kill extended a PBL lead to 16-12 before a block by Freehil cut GCMS's deficit to 17-15. Freehill had a kill in between two kills by Oyer before recording a block to cut the Falcons' deficit to 19-17.
After PBL sided out, GCMS went on a 4-1 run as a Ryleigh Brown ace tied the set at 21-21.
Makenna Klann recorded a kill to give PBL the lead at 22-21, but three straight sideouts tied the set at 23-23 before Freehill tallied a kill to give GCMS a 24-23 lead.
After a kill by Walder gave PBL a 25-24, but from there, the Falcons ended the set on a 3-1 run as a kill by Freehill finished the set, giving GCMS its first set victory in its span of two matches in four days against PBL.
“The girls are just getting better as they go on. The girls played with a lot of intensity," Rubarts said. "That’s what we’ve been asking from them through that tournament and coming into the regular season.”
Freehill finished the match with 13 kills and 20 digs while Schutte had 18 assists.
“Jessica has definitely been our point scorer for us, and she will continue to do that. Mady Schutte does a really nice job of distributing the ball to her, but none of that can happen without the passers in the back row," Rubarts said. "They’re doing a nice job back there and continuing to improve.”
Kills by Walder and Oyer helped PBL gain a 3-0 lead in the third set before an ace by Kira Fuoss helped the Falcons tie the game at 3-3.
Walder and Miles each tallied a kill to give PBL a 5-3 lead.
After Oyer recorded a kill to make the score 6-4, two kills by Schwarz made the score 7-5 and 9-6. Freehill then recorded a kill and an ace to tie the set at 9-9.
Miles tallied a kill to give PBL a 11-10 lead.
Oyer finished the match with 18 kills while Walder, Cosgrove and Miles had seven, six and five kills, respectively. Schwarz also had three blocks while Oyer had 10 digs.
“That’s what we said in our last timeout — I was really happy with some of our other hitters stepping up and putting away some balls when we needed it. I’m thrilled with Jasmine," Stalowy said. "I’m really happy with Brooke as well. They’ve both been huge players for us this past week and a half.”
Schmidt had four aces, 23 assists and 12 digs while Makayla Klann had 19 digs.
After matches at Watseka on Thursday, at home against Rantoul on Monday and at St. Thomas More next Tuesday, the Panthers will host Clifton Central on Thursday, Sept. 12, and Prairie Central on Monday, Sept. 16, before traveling to face St. Joseph-Ogden on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
“I’m happy to move on to a different opponent," Stalowy said. "GCMS is tough, so we’re looking forward to seeing a new opponent and seeing what we can do there.”
Following matches at Deer Creek-Mackinaw on Monday and Flanagan-Cornell next Tuesday, GCMS will host Fisher on Thursday, Sept. 12, before traveling to Iroquois West on Monday, Sept. 16, and Fieldcrest on Tuesday. Sept. 17.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how much they progress as the season goes on," Rubarts said.
The Panthers and Falcons may meet again as both teams are scheduled to participate in the PBL Volleyball Classic, which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and Saturday, Oct. 12.
“There is a good chance we could see them again. It’s always fun, a nice little rivalry game," Rubarts said. "I think it really makes both of our teams better because of that competition between the two."
PBL def. GCMS 25-17, 25-27, 25-19
At Gibson City
For PBL (6-0), kills: Addison Oyer 18, Brooke Walder 7, Baylee Cosgrove 6, Jasmine Miles 5, Makenna Klann 2, Hannah Schwarz 2, Abbie Schmidt; aces: Schmidt 4, Makayla Klann, Carly Mutchmore; blocks: Schwarz 3, Oyer, Miles; digs: Makayla Klann 19, Schmidt 12, Oyer 10, Makenna Klann 6, Mutchmore 4, Walder 3, Jaden Bender 2, Schwarz 2, Cosgrove; assists: Schmidt 23, Makenna Klann 6, Makayla Klann 4, Oyer.
For GCMS (4-2), kills: Jessica Freehill 13; aces: Kira Fuoss 2; blocks: Lindsey Heinz; digs: Freehill 20; assists: Mady Schutte 18; service points: Fuoss 10.