GOREVILLE -- Cobden held off late rallies by Crab Orchard to sweep the Trojans, 25-19, 27-25, earning a third straight regional title at the Goreville Class 1A volleyball regional Thursday.
"Crab Orchard makes you earn victories against them, but, you know what, that was the best game we played all year," said Cobden Nathan Emrick.
Cobden (22-10) advances to its own sectional Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. against Christopher -- the winner of the Norris City Regional.
"It's going to be a tough sectional, but we're going to do it at our place in front of our fans and our student section, who was here tonight cheering us on," Emrick said.
The Appleknockers led 19-11 in the first set when the Trojans went on a 7-0 run to pull with a point, behind Johanna Mandrell and Brooke Arnold. Arnold led the match with 10 kills while Mandrell finished with 10 block shots and eight kills.
However, a bad serve by Arnold followed by a bad shot by Mandrell stopped the run cold. An ace by Taylor Tomazzoli kept the Cobden rebound going before Mandrell scored again.
"Ball control and serve receive -- we didn't do a good job tonight," said Crab Orchard coach Jon Watts. "Besides the night we played Marion this was probably our worse on ball control. We weren't able to get the balls on point tonight. We also had very untimely errors while they would find the open spots. We didn't move or cover well tonight."
Sara Millis then scored on back-to-back shots for set point before Carley Washer put the set away on a kill from the middle. Washer and Tomazzoli led Cobden with six kills each while Millis and Sandra Hartline finished with five each.
Crab Orchard (26-5) fell behind 22-16 in the second set before Arnold took over. The senior middle hitter got the rally started with a smash from the middle to send Taylor Reynolds behind the service line.
Arnold then scored from the right side before Reynolds served up an ace to close to within three points and force Cobden to take a timeout. A bad return on the senior setter's next serve kept the rally going, before Arnold reeled off two straight kills to tie the score at 22.
Hartline regained the lead for Cobden on a shot from the left side, but Arnold knotted the score again with another kill from the middle.
Cobden retook the lead on a kill by Tomazzoli that went through the hands of Mandrell, but an attempted set to an open wing and a kill by Mandrell gave the Trojans set point at 25-24.
Freshman Meredith Flamm saved Cobden from a third set by scoring from the right side to tie the score, sending Tomazzoli behind the line.
"I didn't think about what would happen if I missed the shot, so I stayed locked in and played like any other play," Flamm said. "I wasn't sure the shot was in until I heard my team cheering."
On the junior's first serve Millis' shot found an open hole in the middle of the back row to give the Appleknockers set point.
Tomazzoli then hit her next serve directly at libero Mikkala Church on the right side of the back row. Her pass handcuffed Cortney McCoskey on the far left corner of the front row, forcing her shot into the net and giving the title to the Appleknockers.
"I don't want to cocky, but I had all the confidence in the world we could push through and win this regional," Tomazzoli said. "I knew I could get the first serve in and we could get the ball up and get a hit. On the last serve I was aiming at zone one because we thought that was the weakest passer."
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