WINDSOR — Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg trailed 15-10 in the second set after winning the first 25-13 before outscoring Cumberland 15-5 to win 25-20 to reach the Class 1A volleyball sectional championship game on Monday.
The Hatchets are 25-14 and will play Altamont at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the sectional final. Altamont defeated WSS twice this season and both teams are in the National Trail Conference.
Tri-County gave Altamont a battle and was within three points of sweeping the Lady Indians. Altamont (30-7-1) scored five of the last six points in the second set and overcame an 8-4 deficit in the final set. The Lady Indians won 22-25, 25-23, 25-16.
Altamont def. Tri-County 22-25, 25-23, 25-16
It came down to a third set and Tri-County scored six of the first seven points, as Cailynne Phillips served the first four points. An ace by Lilile Cox made it 6-1 when Altamont battled back to tie the game at nine. Rache Jackman served the final two points to tie the contest.
The Lady Titans, who finished 22-9, led 10-9 after a kill by Izzy Carroll. That would be the last time they led as the Lady Indians tied the game and Ada Tappendorf served two points, including an ace.
"The girls were a little amped up in the first set as we had some unforced errors," said Atlamont coach Scott Klingler. "This team hates to lose. When they want to win, they win. This team stays level-headed and they just play. I tell them to talk and they are not a very talkative group. the first set the talked a lot. The next game they just played like they know how. When they started the third set kind of flat, I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we just worked through it together. I told them they had to swing as our tips were not working."
The Lady Indians had several short serves for points.
"We work a lot on short serves and deep corners and in front of the 10-foot line a lot in practice," said Klingler. "My libero, Olivia Eckhardt, can do it for days. In some games she has had 10-12 aces for us on the short serve. When she is on, she is on and it is hard to receive."
In the second set Tri-County scored four of the first five points, taking a 4-1 lead on a kill by Kaylenn Hunt, who had 14 kills in the match. Atlamont took a 5-4 lead and the Lady Titans stormed back for an 8-5 advantage as Madison Shirley served three points. The set was tied for the sixth time at 15 when the Lady Titans took a three-point lead, 18-15 on two serves by Lillie Cox. Tri-County led by three two more times, including 22-19 when Altamont began its run. A service error gave the Lady Indians the serve. Jackman served four consecutive points, including two aces. A hitting error gave Altamont the two-point win.
"I am really proud of these girls," said Tri-County coach Crystal Buckler. "This whole team has proven to not only me but for themselves and Titan Nation how good they could really be. They came out tonight to win and that second set was so close. We made a couple of errors that cost us that set. The girls knew coming into the third set we had 25 points to regroup. I am really proud of all my seniors (eight of them). They all played important roles at important times in the match. We have a lot to be proud of. Altamont is a good team and towards the end of the third set, they played to win. Our girls played their hearts out and I am proud of each and every one of them."
WSS def. Cumberland 25-13, 25-20
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The Hatchets, who have won five straight now and eight of their last nine, never trailed in the first set. WSS led 7-4 before outscoring the Lady Pirates 10-2 to take control with a 17-6 advantage.
Mackenzie Brown's kill gave Brianna Hewing the serve. Hewing served an ace and got four straight points for a 12-4 lead. Adi McCray served another four straight points getting help from a kill by Mackinzie Reynolds, and Natalie Hayes as well as a tip from Hannah Hays.
Cumberland trailed 8-4 in the second set before tying the game up as Micaela Bradley, one of three seniors on the team, served two aces. The game was deadlocked at 10 when freshman Kendyn Syfert earned a kill. Zoe Mitchell served the next four points, including an ace for a five-point advantage.
WSS began its comeback as Hayes served three straight points, including an ace.
Cumberland still led 20-17 after a kill by Carly Thornton. WSS earned the served and Hewing earned the final seven points, including an ace and a block and tip by Hewing.
Reynolds led the Hatchet in kills, especially in the first set.
"Reynolds is our go-to and she has been improving all season," said WSS coach Ronda Schlechte. "The consistency is really getting there and she is working on adjusting to those not so perfect sets. She is doing a really good job with that."
As for the second set, Schlecthe said: "I think we just get timid with possibly someone else taking the ball instead of us wanting to take the ball. Cumberland was in our spots that we were hitting from the first set. I took a time-out and we talked about moving this around. They did a good job of bouncing back and keep cutting at the score."
Cumberland, which was making its first sectional appearance since 2011, finished 18-15.
"We showed up intimidated and not ready to play," said Cumberland coach Audra Spekman, a 2006 Stewardon-Strasburg grad. "The second set I changed the back row putting in Kennedy Stults. I told them to quit playing scared and start swinging and we finally turned on our offense. Then we got close to the end and we locked up."
It was the first time since 2010 Cumberland was in Class 1A.
WSS won despite not having three starters in Ana Schlecthe, Liz Domzalskii and Karlie Bean. Bean has been nursing a possible stress fracture since mid-September and Anna twisted her ankle in regional championship and Domzalski has been out with a concussion suffered in the Mount Pulaski Tournament a few weeks ago.