Kaitlyn Zelhart, Blue Ridge Volleyball Beats PBL after Marathon Third Set

BLUE RIDGE def. PAXTON-BUCKLEY-LODA 25-11, 20-25, 33-31

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- After the Lady Knights beat the Lady Panthers 25-11 in the first set, some might have thought the match would end up being a cakewalk.

However, Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles knew better.

PBL bounced back with a 25-20 win in the second set. What followed was a marathon third set that kept everyone on the edge of their seats throughout.

"They came to play in the second set," Miles said. "I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk like the first set was. I knew that wasn’t what PBL had to offer, so we sort of dug ourselves a rut. We made a run, but it was too insurmountable. The third set went back-and forth, but we persevered and finished it."

In that third set, the Lady Panthers went ahead 13-11 before Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above) tapped the ball over the net for the side-out kill. She tied the set at 13-13 with a serve that PBL's Kailey Kleinert hit twice for a violation.

Kaitlyn Zelhart gave Blue Ridge the lead with a serve that Randee Newson could not return. The Lady Knights scored six of the next seven points.

Then the Lady Panthers came back and took a 21-20 lead. Catlyn Ekstrom tied the set at 20-20 with a serve that hit Jessica Schrock's feet, then gave PBL the lead with a serve that bounced off the net and over it.

From there, the Lady Panthers took a one-point lead on five different occasions, only to have Blue Ridge tie the set. Two match-saving spikes by Kaitlyn Zelhart tied the set at 24-24 and 25-25.

Then Schrock (pictured above) gave Blue Ridge the lead by hitting a ball that PBL returned with an erroneous hit. From there, the Lady Knights took two consecutive one-point leads.

The Lady Panthers took their final lead of the match at 31-30. From there, Blue Ridge scored three unanswered points to seal the match.

Kaitlyn Zelhart tied the set at 31-31 with a hit that Amanda Ypya returned with a bump into the crowd. Jordan Wheeler (pictured below) helped give the Lady Knights the lead with a diving dig that resulted in a point when PBL hit the ball out of bounds.

Kaitlyn Zelhart ended the grueling set, and the match, with a hit that forced Ekstrom to return the ball backwards.

In the first set, Blue Ridge scored the first eight points, including two consecutive on Emily Zelhart serves. The Lady Knights gained a 24-8 lead with a Wheeler serve that Ekstrom returned with a hit that landed out of bounds.

Blue Ridge got the 25th point of the first set when Kaylee Genzel failed to get the ball over the net on a serve.

In the second set, PBL gained 23-13 lead before the Lady Knights scored five consecutive points. The first of those points was scored with a Ypya serving error.

The score went to 23-18 when Kaitlyn Zelhart tapped the ball over the net and to the right spot on the floor. The kill was set up by a Wheeler dig.

However, the Lady Panthers got the 25th point of the second set when Emily Zelhart hit the net on a serve.

Kaitlyn Zelhart finished the match with 13 kills, five blocks, three aces and 10 points. Emily Zelhart (pictured above) had 21 assists, two aces and 12 points for the Lady Knights.

Wheeler contributed with 18 digs, three aces and six points.

"[The match] could have gone either way," Miles said. It was a good win over a [Class] 2A team. I think we had a much better energy and mindset going into this match than we did last night."

With the win, the Lady Knights improve to 16-3 heading into a Heart of Illinois Conference matchup at Fieldcrest on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Blue Ridge junior varsity team lost to PBL 25-22, 21-25, 15-11.

For the record...

The IHSA record for most points scored by a team in a set belongs to Lanark Eastland, who scored 54 points in a set against Woodstock Marian on November 8, 2003.

By scoring 33 points in the third set against Paxton-Buckley-Loda, the Lady Knights tied for ninth all-time with Crystal Lake Central, who scored 33 in a set against Woodstock Marian Central on October 14, 2006.

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