NASHVILLE — One of the best seasons in the history of the Pinckneyville volleyball program has come to an end. After winning a school record 34 games, the SIRR Mississippi Division title and the IHSA Class 2A Anna-Jonesboro Regional, the Panthers could not come out on top at the Nashville Sectional.
Pinckneyville fell to the Carlinville Cavaliers in straight sets on Monday night. The Panthers dropped set one 25-19 and set two 27-25.
“The girls have nothing to be ashamed of, they had a great season, they worked really hard in the gym to improve and get better, and to work as a team. I just told them in the locker room, they have nothing to be sad about or hang their heads about," said Pinckneyville coach Cathy Kohnen. "They gave an honest effort, won the conference, 34 wins is nothing to be down about. They should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished this year for the Pinckneyville program.”
In the first set of the match, Pinckneyville held an early lead, but could not battle back after falling behind. Carlinville would build a lead of 10, at 20-10 midway through the set, but the Panthers did not give up.
Pinckneyville clawed back into the match behind the serve of Olivia Szczepanski. Carlinville would quickly see their lead shrink as Pinckneyville scored six straight points to cut it to a four point game. It would be as close as the Panthers would get as Carlinville closed out the first set 25-19.
Set two was a much closer affair with neither team gaining a significant advantage. Carlinville jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but the Panthers would battle back to take a 8-7 lead. Carlinville took an 11-10 lead and held the lead for the majority of the contest. Pinckneyville would not let the Cavaliers build a significant margin as neither team led by more than five in the second set.
Carlinville enjoyed their largest lead at 21-16, but the Panthers battled back to take a lead of their own late. After tying the game at 21 and 22, the Panthers grabbed the lead at 24-22. Carlinville would score the next three points to take a 25-24 lead in what would be a thrilling final few points of the match. Pinckneyville tied the game at 25 but Carlinville scored the final two points, to win the match 27-25 and advance to the Sectional Championship.
“Carlinville does a great job of moving that ball around and finding the empty holes on our side, and it kind of got the best of us tonight,' added Kohnen. "We worked really hard to cover those holes, but just fell a little bit short.”
Emma Banach led the Panthers with six kills in the loss, three in each of the two games. Kylee Kling finished with five kills, while Taylor Witges finished with three kills. Daisy Dudek finished with two kills. Sarah Breslin led the team with eight assists, while Kling finished with 15 digs. Szczepanski finished with 13 digs in the loss.