Huskies come together for final two sets at Pekin

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 9/11/21

Needing a win in the fourth set to extend the match at Pekin on Thursday, the Highland volleyball team did more than just stay alive. They made a statement. 

The Huskies torched the Panthers 25-9 in the fourth and carried that momentum into the fifth. A 15-9 win in the decisive set gave Highland a winning record at 4-3, and a 2-1 record in the SEISC North. 

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Huskies come together for final two sets at Pekin

Posted

Needing a win in the fourth set to extend the match at Pekin on Thursday, the Highland volleyball team did more than just stay alive. 

They made a statement. 

The Huskies torched the Panthers 25-9 in the fourth and carried that momentum into the fifth. A 15-9 win in the decisive set gave Highland a winning record at 4-3, and a 2-1 record in the SEISC North. 

“We out-teamed them,” Highland head coach Gina Trower said.  “The athletes were in and out of their ‘best mindset’ throughout the Pekin game and when we came back from the locker room before the fourth set, the athletes wanted to take the match and they knew they had to focus in order to make it happen.”

Pekin took the opening set 25-22 and Highland evened things up with a narrow 26-24 win. The Panthers took the third 25-16 before the Huskies took over. 

“The theme seemed to be ‘fight’ at the Pekin game,” Trower said. 

“Fight for every ball, fight the negative attitude after a lost point, and fight with each other and really connect and communicate as a team.”

Sarah Burton led the Huskies with 11 kills at Pekin, while Jalynn Brown had eight kills and no errors. Burton and Mackinze Hora each had 14 digs. 

MyLei Smith was 13-of-14 serving with four aces and had 20 assists in the win.  

Payton Brun had five kills and three aces. Carson Mellinger had four kills and a block. 

It was Highland’s first win over Pekin since 2016, and just the second win for the Huskies in the last 11 meetings. 

On Tuesday, the Huskies were unable to take Mediapolis to a fifth set, falling 25-23 in a tight fourth. 

Mediapolis took the first set 25-9, but the Huskies came out with a strong start in the second. Highland went up 8-1 and took five of the last seven points for a 25-22 win. 

Trower said that her team knew having the right mindset would be important going into the match against Mediapolis, who had won the last 17 matches with Highland. 

“We know what our statistics are against Mepo,” Trower said. “We know how long it’s been since we’ve taken a set from Mepo and how long it’s been since we’ve taken a game from Mepo. And today, we took the baby step of at least taking that set. And I’m proud as heck of those girls for doing that.”

Hora was 14-for-14 serving with two aces in the match. She also led the Huskies with 25 digs. Brown led the Huskie attack with six kills. Burton had four blocks and three kills. 

After falling 25-14 in the third, the Huskies had a good start in the fourth and led 8-3 before Mepo came back. 

Three straight Highland points tied the set at 23-23, but Mediapolis got the last two to end the match. 

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