Blue Ridge Volleyball Bounces Back from Slow Start, Wins HOIC game over LeRoy

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Whether it was the distractions of Homecoming Week or the five-day layoff after beating Deer Creek-Mackinaw and Tri-Valley in back-to-back nights, the Lady Knights got off to a slow start at home against LeRoy.

Blue Ridge trailed LeRoy, a team that entered the match with an 0-4 Heart of Illinois Conference record, in the first set 10-6. However, the Lady Knights recovered and beat the Panthers 25-22, 25-21.

"We played well enough to win tonight," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "We’ll have those sometimes, especially during Homecoming Week. I knew our girls will respond [after being down 10-6]; they showed their leadership. Knowing what’s at stake every in, day-in and day-out, that’s the biggest thing we’re trying to convey because don’t want another hiccup like we had at [El Paso-Gridley]."

After Blue Ridge's timeout, Emily Zelhart (pictured above) got the side-out kill to make the score 10-7 in the first set. After tying the score at 11-11, Blue Ridge scored two consecutive points via Chandler Morrow serves.

After LeRoy got a side-out point to make the score 13-12, Amber Blazek contributed to Blue Ridge's ensuing side-out when she went into the crowd to save the ball from landing.

The Panthers tied the first set at 22-22 after getting three consecutive points. Then Blazek (pictured below)got the side-out point to give the Lady Knights the lead.

Emily Zelhart got the next point for Blue Ridge with a spike that deflected off a LeRoy block attempt and onto the floor. Then the Lady Knights clinched the first set when a Panther player was called for an erroneous hit.

In the second set, Blue Ridge got the first point with a diagonal spike from Kaitlyn Zelhart that hit one of LeRoy's players in the face. The Lady Knights took the early 4-1 lead with a Blazek hit that bounced off the net and over it.

However, LeRoy took leads of 9-7 and 14-13. Then, after Blue Ridge got the side-out point on a Panther hitting error, Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above) gave her team a 15-14 lead with a hit that found the right spot in the middle of LeRoy's side of the court.

Kaitlyn Zelhart clinched the second set with her only block of the match. She also finished the match with eight kills, seven digs, one ace and five service points.

Blazek led Blue Ridge in aces (two) and service points (six). Emily Zelhart recorded 15 assists.

Morrow (pictured above) finished the match tied for the team lead in digs with seven.

With the win, the Lady Knights improve to 15-3 overall and 6-1 in the HOIC. They will host a non-conference match against Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Tuesday and play at Fieldcrest for a conference match on Thursday.

"Winning in conference is always a good thing," Miles said. "We’ve got some tough ones coming up. I’m confident our girls will play at a high level tomorrow and Thursday."

Meanwhile, Blue Ridge's junior varsity team beat LeRoy on Monday as well, winning 26-24, 25-20.

"It’s always nice when the JV sets the tone with a win," Miles said.

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