Kaitlyn Zelhart, Jordan Wheeler Lead Blue Ridge Volleyball to Non-Conference Victory over DeLand-Weldon

DELAND, Ill. -- Even though the Lady Knights left DeLand with a 25-17, 25-23 win over the Eagles, Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles felt that his team could have fared better.

"A win is a win, especially on the road against a team in our region," Miles said. "But we could be better, and we'll need to play better [in future matches]. Coming off five intense matches [on Saturday], I anticipated that we would be a little bit slower. But give DeLand-Weldon some credit; they're a competitive team."

Kaitlyn Zelhart and Jordan Wheeler helped dig (for Wheeler, the pun was intended) Blue Ridge out of a hole.


Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above with the pink bandana) led the Lady Knights in kills with 10. She also recorded two blocks, seven points and one ace.

Jordan Wheeler had 11 digs, including one in the first set that sparked the highlight reel. And a little controversy.

With Blue Ridge leading the first set 21-16, Wheeler (pictured below) dived in front of the net to save a ball from falling on the Lady Knights' side of the floor, a "pancake" dig as described by assistant coach Hailey Thomas.

The dig set up Gabby Pearl for the touch hit that increased the Lady Knights' lead to 23-16. Some DeLand-Weldon fans complained that the ball hit the floor before Wheeler touched it.

However, the referees determined that it was a clean dig.

"That's her favorite thing to do: dig balls," Miles said. "She likes to get down and dirty and get after it. She revels in it. I wish I had more players like that."

Afterwards, Amber Blazek (No. 20 pictured below) made a diving dig of her own to set herself up for the point that made the score 24-16 in favor of Blue Ridge in the first set. Wheeler got the set-clinching point with a touch hit over Eagles players looking for the block.

In the second set, DeLand-Weldon took a 2-0 lead when Chandler Morrow failed to return a serve by Alexis Dick. Emily Zelhart, who finished the match with 11 assists, seven points and one ace, hit a one-handed shot over the net.

Blue Ridge took a 4-3 lead with a Kaitlyn Zelhart block. From there, the Lady Knights never trailed the second set.

However, the Eagles did challenge Blue Ridge's lead on many occasions, tying the set on several occasions.
They tied the set at 22-22 when Kaitlyn Zelhart's spike attempt was dug out.

Kaitlyn Zelhart gave the Lady Knights a 23-22 lead with a touch shot that DeLand-Weldon deflected out of bounds on the right side. She increased her team's lead to 24-22 with a spike that the Eagles could not return.

After an Emily Zelhart (pictured below) serve hit the net to cut Blue Ridge's lead to 24-23, Kaitlyn Zelhart got the match-clinching point when she spiked the ball that DeLand-Weldon failed to return, instead, the Eagles' volley would hit the net.

With the win, Blue Ridge increases its record to 11-2. The Lady Knights will host Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley in a Heart of Illinois Conference matchup.

Junior Varsity

Blue Ridge def. DeLand-Weldon 26-24, 25-14.

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