Blue Ridge Falls Short in Regional Championship Match, Losing to Mount Pulaski 18-25, 26-24, 25-17

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- After the Lady Knights' season concluded at the Farmer City Blue Ridge Regional championship match, some of their fans stayed in the gymnasium.

As Kasey Sedberry and Courtney Cox were the first Blue Ridge players to come out of the locker room, the fans applauded a team that finished the season with a 23-8 record.

"I’m proud of my team, especially with the blend of youth this season," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "Good veteran leadership. [To go] 23-8 [with] three seniors, two freshman starters and a lot of sophomores, that’s very good. It’s encouraging."

Within the second game, it looked like the season would extend to the Mount Pulaski Sectional, as the Lady Knights won the first game and led the second one 16-10. However, the Lady Toppers overcame the deficit to earn a trip to sectionals.

"That’s just how it works sometimes," Miles said. "I thought we played well, especially in the first and second set. We had our opportunities to close out those two [other] sets. I think we should have; there were just a couple of hitting errors and service errors down the stretch. We just let them slowly back into it, creep back into it."


Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above with parents) led off the first game with two spikes that put Blue Ridge up 2-0. The second of those spikes was set up by a diving assist from Jessica Schrock by the net.

After Mount Pulaski tied the game at 6-6, the Lady Knights went on a 9-2 run to go up 15-8. Two hitting errors, the last of which was committed by Allison Hickey, started the run and gave Blue Ridge an 8-6 lead.

Chandler Morrow (pictured below in blue) gave the Lady Knights a 13-8 lead with a serve. Morrow finished the match with 11 points and one ace.

After Rachel Durchholz gave Mount Pulaski a side-out point to make the score 21-18, Gabby Pearl responded with a left-handed spike on the right side to give Blue Ridge a 22-18 lead. Pearl (pictured below) led her team with 3.5 blocks.

Kaitlyn Zelhart got the next point for the Lady Knights with a spike of her own that deflected off a Lady Topper. From there, Blue Ridge scored the final two points of the first game via hitting errors by Hickey and Durchholz, respectively.

"The first set, [there was] great energy," Miles said. "We were catching them off balance."

In the second game, the Lady Knights fell behind 3-0. Hickey got Mount Pulaski's first point with a spike and the next two via serves.

However, Blue Ridge responded with a 6-1 run. After an Amber Blazek serving error, Kaitlyn Zelhart tied the game at 4-4 with two spikes, the second of which Breanna Howe returned with a hit that landed out of bounds.

Schrock (pictured below) and Pearl were at the net for the block on the next play, giving the Lady Knights a 5-4 lead.

The Lady Toppers tied the game at 10-10 with a hit by Jessica Awe. Blue Ridge scored six unanswered points from there, starting with a hit by Awe that went out of bounds.

Morrow gave the Lady Knights a two-point lead via serve and Blazek (pictured below) got the next point with a diagonal spike that barely landed in bounds on the right side.

After the 6-0 run, Kaitlyn Zelhart started the Mount Pulaski rally with a hit that landed out of bounds on the right side. The Lady Toppers went on to score seven of the next eight points.

Hickey tied the second game at 17-17 with a block. On the ensuing play, Schrock hit the ball out of bounds on the left side to give Mount Pulaski the lead.

The Lady Toppers' next lead was 24-23, the 24th point scored on a Whitney Nichols serve. After Nichols gave Blue Ridge its 24th point with a serving error, Durchholz scored the go-ahead point for Mount Pulaski with a tap shot that deflected off Blazek.

Awe finished the second game with a serve.

"I wouldn’t say we lost our composure, but we started doing little things that kind of manifest themselves," Miles said. "Then we started thinking about it, rather than playing in the game. You have it creeping in your mind. [Mount Pulaski's] a very good team. Talent-wise, they’re pretty good. They never wavered. They didn’t panic or freak out or anything, so you have to credit them for that."

In the third game, the Lady Toppers took a 5-0 lead. Hickey gave Mount Pulaski its second point via serve and Durchholz its fourth point via block.

The fifth point was scored by Howe, whose hit beat a diving Jordan Wheeler.

"Once it went to set three, I was, not real nervous, but it’s never good when you should close it in two," Miles said.

However, Blue Ridge brought the score to within one point, as Wheeler (pictured above) delivered a serve that resulted in a Durchholz hitting error and cut the Lady Knights' deficit to 10-9. 

A service ace by Blazek cut the Lady Toppers' lead to 15-14 before Mount Pulaski called a timeout.

However, the Lady Toppers went on a 10-3 run after the timeout, including a 7-1 run to end the game and the match. The 25th point was scored when Blazek hit a diagonal shot that barely sailed out of bounds on the right side.

"When we almost caught them in the third set and they called a timeout, I thought we were getting our momentum," Miles said. "We could see a couple of their girls with their heads down. We just couldn’t tie it and overtake them afterwards, and that was the frustrating part."

Kaitlyn Zelhart finished the match with 15 kills, one ace and six service points. Emily Zelhart (pictured below) had 22 assists and Wheeler was credited with 15 digs.

With Wheeler, Kaitlyn Zelhart and Sedberry the only seniors leaving for college after the 2011-12 school year, Miles said next year's team could have some potential.

"It’s going to suck losing those three seniors by any means, especially their leadership," Miles said. "They’re good girls and are very skilled. It’ll be interesting to see who takes that leadership role. It might be a combination of players next year. A lot of those younger players have varsity experience, which will go into next year. Also, they see what it takes and what you have to do to be good at a high level."

As for the Lady Toppers, they will play in the Mount Pulaski Sectional semifinals on Tuesday. They will face Broadlands Heritage, who defeated Chrisman 25-21, 26-24 in the Chrisman Regional.
Farmer City Blue Ridge Regional Update: MOUNT PULASKI def. BLUE RIDGE 18-25, 26-24, 25-17.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: Mount Pulaski tied the match with a 26-24 win in the second game.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights won the first game 25-18 over Mount Pulaski.

NCAA to Pay Stipend to Student Athletes

According to a recent ESPN report, the NCAA Division I board of directors has passed a measure that will allow schools to pay stipends of up to $2,000 to scholarship players.

 In other words, schools such as USC are now allowed to break a little bread, if you will, for the athletes.


Blue Ridge Volleyball Wins 25-13, 25-12 in Regional Semifinal Match over DeLand-Weldon, Will Meet Mount Pulaski in Championship Match

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- The Lady Knights are back in the regional championship match after knocking off the Eagles in dominant fashion in the Farmer City Blue Ridge Regional semifinals.

No. 2-seeded Blue Ridge dispatched No. 3 DeLand-Weldon with a balanced scoring attack. Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured below) led the Lady Knights with six kills and five service points while Amber Blazek and Jessica Schrock had five kills each; Schrock also had five service points.

"We played very well, especially compared to yesterday," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "[There are] a few things to [correct]; eight service errors, things like that. But overall, we spread out our offense. It was very diversified today. Both of our outside hitters [Blazek and Schrock] were able to adjust."

Jordan Wheeler got the scoring started in the first game for the Lady Knights with a serve that deflected off Alexis Dick for the point. With the score 4-3 in favor of Blue Ridge, the Lady Knights went on a 9-2 scoring run that increased the lead to 13-5.

Blazek got the sixth point with a spike that deflected off Dick and the eighth point with a hit that thwarted a Mikayla Jones block attempt. With the score at 9-5, Blazek gave Blue Ridge the next two points via serves.

Blazek (pictured below) finished the match with four digs along with her five kills. She also recorded two aces on Tuesday against Decatur Christian.

"Sometimes, she's her own worst enemy, but she played very even-keel tonight mentally," Miles said. "We talked about how [DeLand-Weldon] played. They hit a lot of deliberate down balls deep. Defensively, she made good adjustments on those. She had some good timing on her hits today, too. She didn't try to overpower it or hit it too hard. It was a good rhythm."

After the Eagles got to within 14-8, Schrock gave Blue Ridge its 15th point with a diagonal spike that deflected off Brooke Kimball. That sparked a 5-0 run that ended with a Schrock serve that hit Brittany Roberts in the face for the Lady Knights' point.

Kaitlyn Zelhart got the 23rd and 24th points for Blue Ridge with a tap over the net and a block that was not returned by DeLand-Weldon, respectively. Emily Zelhart finished the first game with a serve.

In the second game, the Lady Knights fell behind 3-0. The last two of those three points were scored via Dick serves that were not returned.

Blue Ridge got the side-out point with a DeLand-Weldon hitting error. From there, the Lady Knights would score the next seven points.

Kaitlyn Zelhart, who finished the match with 10 digs and five service points to go along with her six kills, tied the second game at 3-3 with a spike that Roberts returned with a hit that landed in the crowd.

Wheeler (pictured above) gave Blue Ridge the lead with a serve that darted past a Dick diving attempt. Wheeler also scored the Lady Knights' sixth and eighth points with serves that the Eagles could not return.

After leading 12-6 in the second game, Blue Ridge went on a 12-3 run to boost the advantage to 24-9.

Kaitlyn Zelhart started the run with a tip over the net on the right side. Schrock got the next point with a spike that deflected off an Eagles player and got the Lady Knights' 16th and 19th points with a spike and a tip on the right side, respectively.

Schrock (pictured above) also served a ball that ended up hitting a DeLand-Weldon player in the face to give Blue Ridge the 23rd point of the second game. The Eagles got three straight points to make the score 24-12 before the Lady Knights took the 25th point.

Wheeler finished the match with four aces and nine service points. Emily Zelhart (pictured below) had 14 assists, two aces and seven service points while Chandler Morrow was credited with five service points.

For DeLand-Weldon, Roberts led her team in digs with five.

With the win, Blue Ridge is now 23-7 on the season. They will play in the regional championship match against top-seeded Mount Pulaski.

The Lady Toppers escaped deficits of 7-0 and 9-2 in the first game of their match against fourth-seeded Decatur Lutheran to win 25-17, 25-12.

"I think they're very beatable," Miles said. "I think if LSA can play defense and serve receive better, they're a legit team. Like any good team, [Mount Pulaski] doesn't get too rattled. They made adjustments after that timeout and they responded. We'll expect the same thing from them tomorrow."

The Lady Knights and Lady Toppers will begin their quest for the regional title on Thursday at 6 p.m.


Farmer City Raceway driver Chris Dick, a DeLand native, was on hand to watch her daughter, Alexis, play for the Eagles.

For those who did not follow the FCR point standings last summer, Chris (whose car is pictured above) finished second in the point standings of the Street Stock Division and sixth in the Late Models Division.

Chris says Alexis (pictured above) attends his races, and vice versa for her volleyball matches. So the two should know the Farmer City area pretty well by now.

Alexis finished the match against Blue Ridge with one ace and nine service points.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights won the first game 25-13 over DeLand-Weldon.
Blue Ridge Volleyball Regional Update: Top-seeded Mount Pulaski defeated Decatur Lutheran 25-17, 25-12.


Blue Ridge Volleyball Beats Decatur Christian 25-15, 25-13 in Regional Quarterfinal Match; Will Meet DeLand-Weldon in Semifinals

Updated October 26 at 12:06 p.m.

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- After settling for sixth place in the Heart of Illinois Conference Tournament, Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said his team would need to regroup with a strong practice Monday.

"I thought we had a great practice yesterday," Miles said Tuesday. "I thought we addressed a lot of things. We were very focused and sharp."

Blue Ridge, the No. 2 seed in a regional they are hosting, took that focus and sharp play into Tuesday's quarterfinal match against No. 7 Decatur Christian. The Lady Knights took a 7-1 lead in the first game and finished the second one on a 14-1 run en route to the match victory.

"I thought we finished strong," Miles said. "It's kind of hard with the competitive nature going on there to really get into it. The crowd was kind of stale, but there's no excuse. There's things we need to work on -- fewer errors for us -- down the stretch. But overall, it's a win, and we're in the direction we want to be. To win 22 is always positive. I think we'll come back with a better game tomorrow."

After the Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the first game, Blue Ridge gathered seven consecutive points to take a lead it would not surrender. After a Kaitlyn Zelhart spike tied the game at 1-1, Jordan Wheeler (pictured above in pink bandana) gave the Lady Knights four of her team's six points via serve.

Wheeler finished the match with two aces and six service points.

"Jordan's very good [at serving]," Miles said. "She's kind of high risk, high reward, so I expect that out of her. When she gets into a rhythm, barring a timeout and then a re-serving, she's pretty consistent."

After Decatur Christian cut the deficit in the first game to 9-6, Sara Klemm gave Blue Ridge the side-out point with a service error. Then the Lady Knights took the next three points, with Jessica Schrock giving the Lady Knights a 12-6 lead via serve.

After three straight points from the Warriors that cut their deficit to 13-9, Blue Ridge went on a 5-0 run, capped off by three consecutive serves by Amber Blazek.

Blazek (pictured above) finished the match with two aces.

Kaitlyn Zelhart stopped Decatur Christian's ensuing 5-0 run with a spike that hit the net and went over it for the point. After an Emily Zelhart serve that made the score 24-15 in favor of the Lady Knights, Kaitlyn Zelhart finished off the first game with a block to give her team the 25th point.

In the second game, Emily Zelhart (pictured below) gave Blue Ridge an early 3-1 lead with two consecutive serves that the Warriors could not return. However, Decatur Christian came right back with three straight points and would take a 12-11 lead with a Meredith Artime serve that Chandler Morrow could not return.

The Lady Knights responded by scoring the next 11 points, beginning with an Artime serving error that tied the game at 12-12. Blazek gave Blue Ridge a 13-12 lead with a hit that was not returned by the Warriors.

Chandler Morrow increased the Lady Knights lead to 15-12 via serve. Morrow (pictured below) finished the match with 10 service points and one ace.

"Chandler's been developing and getting very consistent down the stretch with her serves. That's always good with her. She does have a lot of movement with her ball, [because of] which she's not going to get a lot of aces a lot of times, but she does a good job of yo-yoing [the ball] deep and short, back and forth and side to side."

Blazek gave Blue Ridge its 21st point with a diving, one-handed hit that went over the net on the left side and hit the floor. With the score 24-14 in favor of the Lady Knights, Kaitlyn Zelhart was at the net for a hit that clinched the match for her team.

Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured below) finished the match with nine kills, eight digs and one block. Emily Zelhart was credited with 12 assists and seven service points.

"I thought we did a good job of not forcing the issue and making different sets and different hitter options rather than being one-dimensional," Miles said.

With the win, Blue Ridge increases its record to 22-7. The Lady Knights will square off against No. 3-seeded DeLand-Weldon in the Farmer City Blue Ridge Regional semifinals on Wednesday.

The Lady Eagles beat No. 6 Sangamon Valley 25-18, 25-14 in the quarterfinals. In DeLand-Weldon's previous meeting with Blue Ridge, which occurred in September, the Lady Knights won in DeLand 25-17, 25-23.

Wednesday's match between Blue Ridge and the Eagles will follow the one between No. 1 Mount Pulaski and No. 4 Decatur Lutheran, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Blue Ridge Volleyball Regional: DELAND-WELDON def. SANGAMON VALLEY 25-18, 25-14.
Blue Ridge Volleyball Regional: LADY KNIGHTS def. DECATUR CHRISTIAN 25-15, 25-13.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights won their first set 25-15 over Decatur Christian in the regional quarterfinals.


Farmer City Blue Ridge Volleyball Regional Update -- October 24, 2011

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Decatur Lutheran, the No. 4-ranked team in the regional, defeated No. 5 Cerro Gordo 25-21, 25-21 on Monday.

The Lady Lions will play against No. 1-ranked Mount Pulaski on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Here are the matchups for Tuesday:

No. 2 Blue Ridge vs. No. 7 Decatur Christian, 5:30 p.m.

No. 3 DeLand-Weldon vs. No. 6 Sangamon Valley, approx. 6:30 p.m.

The winners of these matches will play against each other on Wednesday at approximately 7 p.m.


Blue Ridge Volleyball Loses to Tri-Valley in HOIC Tournament Fifth-place Match

LEXINGTON, Ill. -- A year after winning the Heart of Illinois Conference Tournament, the Lady Knights will enter the postseason on a sour note.

Blue Ridge fell short of a fifth-place finish on Saturday, losing to the Lady Vikings 25-18, 25-22.

In the first game, the Lady Knights developed an 8-3 lead. After Tri-Valley's Kara Neisen tied the game at 3-3 with a serving error, Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured below) picked up the next two points to give Blue Ridge the lead.

However, she also hit a ball out of bounds to give the Lady Vikings the side-out point that cut the Lady Knights' lead to 8-4. From there, Tri-Valley scored 11 of the next 15 points to take a 15-12 lead.

"We went up 8-3 in the first set, and we weren’t mentally tough enough or strong enough to sustain those drives," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "The energy just wasn’t there."

The Lady Vikings went on tho develop leads of 19-14, 22-16 and 24-18 before scoring their 25th point of the first game.

"Our defense wasn’t very consistent tonight," Miles said. "We do have a key injury [to Jordan Wheeler], but that’s no excuse. That’s not a good way to go into regionals. Hopefully, we can correct that at Monday’s practice."

In the second game, Tri-Valley scored the first three points before a Kaitlyn Zelhart hit gave Blue Ridge the side-out point. From there, it was Korie Reynolds' turn to serve.

Via three consecutive serves from Reynolds, the Lady Knights gained a 4-3 lead in the second game. Then an Amber Blazek hit increased their lead to 5-3.

Reynolds (pictured above) finished the match with nine service points.

"I have confidence in her and the way [her serves] have been going in practice as the season progressed," Miles said. "She’s really developing; that’s what we need and what she gave us in the back row. We’ve had some good, younger girls come in and step up and play well. We just need to be consistent."

Tri-Valley tied the second game at 5-5 with a Reynolds hitting error and a Jessica Neumann spike. Then each team swapped side-out points three times before the Lady Vikings developed an 11-8 lead.

Blue Ridge scored four of the next five points to tie the second game at 12-12. The Lady Knights' 12th point was scored via Jessica Schrock (pictured below) kill.

Tri-Valley took a 21-18 lead, the 21th point scored with a serve by Blayne Therien that was not returned. Then the Lady Knights scored the next three points, tying the second game with a Blazek serve that landed under the arms of Stefanie Sanidas.

Sanidas gave the Lady Vikings a 22-21 via kill, and her team scored three of the next four points to clinch the match.

Kaitlyn Zelhart finished the match with nine kills and 10 digs. Emily Zelhart (pictured below) had 16 assists and eight digs while Schrock recorded seven kills.

With the loss, Blue Ridge falls to a record of 21-7. The Lady Knights will begin play in the Farmer City Blue Ridge Regional against Decatur Christian on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

"We’ve got to have a great, hard practice on Monday," Miles said. "It’s got to be one of our hardest practices. Obviously, we would like to win the championship on Thursday, but we’ve still got to improve. Even this late in the season, we’ve still got to get better. Right now, we’re not peaking, and we need to be peaking."
HOIC Tournament fifth-place match: TRI-VALLEY def. BLUE RIDGE 25-18, 25-22.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights lost their first game 25-18 to Tri-Valley.

Fisher 26, Blue Ridge Football 6

FISHER, Ill. -- The Knights (0-9, 0-8 Heart of Illinois Conference) finish the season without a win.

The Bunnies, meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot with a record of 6-3 overall and 5-3 in the HOIC.



Updated October 21 at 11:16 a.m.

LEXINGTON, Ill. -- The Lady Knights earned a spot in Saturday's fifth-place match of the Heart of Illinois Conference Tournament with a two-game victory over Fisher.

Kaitlyn Zelhart led Blue Ridge with nine kills, three aces and 10 digs. Emily Zelhart contributed with 16 assists, two aces and eight service points.

Amber Blazek and Jessica Schrock finished the match with four kills each. Gabby Pearl had one block.

With the win, Blue Ridge (21-6) will play against Tri-Valley, who beat Fieldcrest 25-21, 25-12, in the fifth-place match at 5 p.m.

In other HOIC Tournament news, El Paso-Gridley pulled off another upset, knocking off No. 2 Heyworth. The Titans will play against Deer Creek-Mackinaw in the championship match.


Blue Ridge Soccer Ends Season in Warrensburg-Latham Sectional Semifinal, Loses to Monmouth-Roseville 5-3

Updated October 26 at 2:38 p.m. 

WARRENSBURG, Ill. -- Ian Riggs scored two second-half goals for the Knights.

But was too little, too late, as the Titans scored the first two goals and led 4-1 en route to beating Blue Ridge 5-3 in the Warrensburg-Latham Sectional semifinals.

Gerardo Ayala started the scoring for Monmouth-Roseville 6:01 into the match. Then Jairo Ojeda kicked a shot in the middle of traffic that found the net on the right side.

Ojeda's goal, scored with 29:10 left in the first half, gave the Titans a 2-0 lead.

J.J. Malone helped Blue Ridge get on the scoreboard by receiving a pass from Conner Builta and maneuvering past David Flores to set himself up for a shot on the left side of the net.

The shot was thwarted by a diving save from Rodrigo Zamora. However, Builta (pictured above) rebounded the shot and put the ball in the net on the right side.

With that goal, Builta cut the Knights' deficit to 2-1 with 14 minutes left in the first half.

Malone (pictured below), who broke the IHSA record for most goals scored in a career last Saturday, was surprisingly held goalless throughout the match.

With less than 10 seconds left in the first half, Matt Perry took a shot that almost gave Monmouth-Roseville a 3-1 halftime lead.

However, Josh Plunk (pictured below) dived to his right side to make the save. Plunk's save, one of 15 he made on Tuesday, it seemed Blue Ridge had some momentum heading into the second half.

But whatever momentum the Knights had would quickly vanish, as Ojeda scored 16 seconds into the second half to give Monmouth-Roseville a 3-1 lead.

Ayala added another insurance goal for the Titans to give his team a 4-1 lead with 18:31 left in regulation.

Then Riggs (pictured below) scored the first of his two goals via free kick with 14:05 left. His second goal, on which he got a toehold on a lob pass with 5:44 left to play, cut Blue Ridge's deficit to 5-3.

Monmouth-Roseville got its fifth goal with 13:02 left, when Ojeda completed the hat trick with a shot to the right side of the net.

Jon Jones had Blue Ridge's only assist of the match.

With the loss, Blue Ridge ends its season with a record of 19-3-3 and the only regional title in school history.

Malone was nominated as a member of the All-State team by the Illinois Coaches Association. Builta was named to the All-Sectional team and Plunk was given an Honorable Mention.

For the record...

Malone is not the all-time state record holder for most goals scored in a career.

That record belongs to Crete-Monee's Carlos Posada. According to the LeRoy Farmer City Press, Posada had 164 goals as of October 21, two more than Malone scored in his career.

Crete-Monee is still in the postseason, which means Posada could add more goals to his record-holding total. His team is completing a suspended match against Midlothian Bremen in the Lemont Sectional semifinals with a 2-0 lead.

Blue Ridge Volleyball Loses to EPG Again, This Time in HOIC Tournament

Updated October 19 at 11:59 a.m.

LEXINGTON, Ill. -- Last month, Blue Ridge experienced its first Heart of Illinois Conference match loss against El Paso-Gridley, leaving El Paso with a 25-21, 25-19 defeat.

The Titans upset the Lady Knights once again, this time in the HOIC quarterfinals. After winning the first game, Blue Ridge lost the last two to exit the conference tournament with a 15-25, 25-17, 15-10 loss.

Kaitlyn and Emily Zelhart led Blue Ridge. Kaitlyn recorded 17 kills and Emily had 26 assists.

Chandler Morrow finished the match with 17 digs and one ace. Gabby Pearl had 1.5 blocks and Jessica Schrock recorded one ace.

With the loss, the Lady Knights are now 20-6. They will play in the HOIC consolation semifinals against Fisher on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.


BLUE RIDGE SOCCER UPDATE: Conner Builta scored a goal for the Knights, who trail Monmouth-Roseville 2-1 at halftime.


Monday Night Football: Miami Dolphins' Brandon Marshall Puts on Less-than-Monstrous Performance, Pulls a Derek Anderson

For some players, catching six passes for 109 yards (as Brandon Marshall did against the New York Jets) would be reason to smile.

However, with all the hype he created by saying he would perform like a monster on Monday Night Football, you would think he could find the end zone at least once.

Instead, he dropped a potential touchdown pass and let Darrelle Revis intercept a pass intended for him and return the interception 100 yards the other way.

And with all the talking he did about how he would be kicked out of the game, you would think he would be a little more fiery about losing to the Jets by 18 points.

Instead, as you can see in the photo above, Marshall seemed to be in too good a mood on the sidelines. Not unlike Derek Anderson last year. 

Blue Ridge Volleyball's McLean County Tournament Schedule

The Lady Knights will begin play at the McLean County Tournament in Lexington on Tuesday.

No. 3-seeded Blue Ridge will face the winner of No. 6 El Paso-Gridley and No. 11 LeRoy at7:30 p.m. The EPG/LeRoy match is scheduled to be played two hours prior.

If the Lady Knights win on Tuesday, they will play on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against either No. 2 Heyworth, No. 7 Fisher or No. 10 Tremont. If Blue Ridge loses on Tuesday, they'll play in the consolation tournament at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The consolation championship and tournament championship matches are both scheduled for today.

For more information on the tournament, visit www.hoiconference.org.


Record-Breaking Goal Scorer J.J. Malone Leads Blue Ridge Soccer to Sectionals

Updated October 17 at 10:37 a.m.

MONTICELLO, Ill. -- J.J. Malone scored another hat trick to lead the Knights to the Monticello Regional championship, as Blue Ridge beat the Sages 3-2.

Malone (pictured below) scored the only goal of the first half to put Blue Ridge up 1-0. With that goal, he broke the IHSA record for most goals scored in a career.

The record previously belonged to Billy Savarino, who scored 159 goals for Chicago Brother Rice from 1990-93.

Malone went on to score two more goals in the second half. Jacob Hanselman and Billy Nixon each recorded a second-half goal for Monticello; Matt Wells was credited for the assist on Nixon's score.

Malone now has 64 goals in the 2011 season. He surpassed Kevin Schmidt, who scored 62 goals for Hinckley Big Rock in 1980, for third place on the IHSA record list of most goals scored in a season.

Robert Meschback of Chicago Gordon Tech holds that record after scoring 71 goals in 1976. Blue Island Eisenhower's Jose Esparaza scored 65 goals in 1992, putting him in second place.

Malone was not the only one performing well for the Knights, as Josh Plunk made 11 saves to preserve his team's lead. Jon Jones and Ian Riggs picked up one assist each.

With the win over Monticello, Blue Ridge improves to a record of 19-2-3 and advances to the Warrensburg-Latham Sectional.

The Knights will play in the sectional semifinals against Monmouth-Roseville, who beat Macomb 1-0 in the Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central Regional, on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The winner of that match will play against the winner of Wednesday's match between Warrensburg-Latham and Glasford Illini Bluffs for the sectional championship on Saturday.

Blue Ridge Football: Fieldcrest 40, Knights 6

MINONK, Ill. -- A big day on the ground by Trenor Hildreth was not enough to carry Blue Ridge into the win column.

The Knights fall to 0-8 overall and 0-7 in the Heart of Illinois Conference with a loss to Fieldcrest.

Hildreth (pictured above) finished the game with 98 yards rushing. He scored Blue Ridge's only points with a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Knights will play at Fisher in their season finale next week.

Meanwhile, Fieldcrest improves to 2-6 and 1-6 in the HOIC.


Where Blue Ridge Volleyball Sits in HOIC Standings

The Lady Knights finished the season with a 9-3 Heart of Illinois Conference record on Thursday.

El Paso-Gridley and Lexington faced off, with the Titans entering the contest with an 8-3 record and holding the tiebreaker for third place over Blue Ridge.

However, EPG lost to Lexington 25-21, 25-20. That means the Lady Knights claim third place in the HOIC.

Meanwhile, EPG, Lexington and Tri-Valley are in a three-way tie for fourth, each with an 8-4 conference record.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw beat Heyworth on Thursday to claim first place. Both teams have an 11-1 HOIC record, but Dee-Mack holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.


Blue Ridge Volleyball Seniors Lead the Way to Blowout Victory over Flanagan-Cornell

Updated October 14 at 11:05 a.m.

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- After playing in six consecutive three-game matches, Blue Ridge hosted a Flanagan-Cornell team that entered Farmer City with a 1-10 Heart of Illinois Conference record.

Predictably, the Lady Knights made short work of the Lady Falcons, picking up a 25-14, 25-9 victory on Senior Night.

"I thought we had our best pre-game warm-up of the year, and why not on Senior Night," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "The seniors played well. It’s always nice to get the win, especially against a conference school."

Fittingly, it was two seniors who manufactured the final point of the match for the Lady Knights. Kasey Sedberry's assist set up Kaitlyn Zelhart for the match-clinching spike.

Sedberry (No. 24, pictured above), who plans on studying elementary education at a college to be determined, also gave Blue Ridge a 3-1 lead in the second game via serve.

Sedberry finished the match with four digs, one ace, two assists and four service points.

"I can always count on Kasey to give me a top job in the little things," Miles said. "She deserved tonight’s play all the way around."

Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above), who will study physical therapy at Jacksonville State in Alabama, finished the Senior Night match with eight kills, nine digs, three aces and nine service points.

In the second game, she increased Blue Ridge's lead to 5-2, 6-2, 8-2 and 12-2 via serves. After her little sister Emily (pictured below) gave Blue Ridge a 19-7 lead with an untouched spike, Kaitlyn got the next point with a spike so powerful that it knocked Flanagan-Cornell's Amy Kuebler backwards.

"We only have three [seniors], and they stuck it out for four years, so it just shows their passion, enthusiasm and credibility for the sport," Miles said.

Despite an injury to her left ankle, Jordan Wheeler made an appearance serving during the first game.

Wheeler, who looks to transfer to the University of Illinois or Illinois Wesleyan after attending Parkland College and study accounting, came into the match with Blue Ridge leading 11-6. 

Wheeler's two serves helped increase the Lady Knights' lead to 13-6. The last of those two serves resulted in a point via Gabby Pearl block.  

As a result of her appearance, Wheeler (pictured above) finished the match with two service points.

"It was kind of sketchy whether we were going to do that or not until the last minute," Miles said. "She’s a four-year volleyball player and at least a 2-3 year varsity letter winner in volleyball, so she deserved it."

The seniors were not the only ones contributing to Blue Ridge's victory over the Lady Falcons. The Lady Knights scored five consecutive points to increase a 5-3 lead in the first game to 10-3.

The 10th point was scored with an Amber Blazek (No. 20, pictured above) kill that deflected off a Flanagan-Cornell player. Blazek also scored the 25th point of the first game with a tap over the net.

Emily Zelhart finished the match with eight assists, three aces and six service points.
Jessica Schrock (No. 14, pictured below) contributed seven service points. Pearl (No. 26, pictured below) had one solo block.

With the win, Blue Ridge finishes the regular season with a 20-5 record overall and is 9-3 in the HOIC. The Lady Knights will play in the McLean County Tournament beginning on Tuesday.

"We’re not going to try to rush Jordan back too soon, but maybe towards the end of next week or regionals, hopefully she’ll be ready to go," Miles said.

Meanwhile, the Blue Ridge junior varsity team won its last match of the season, beating Flanagan-Cornell 25-13, 25-11. The Lady Knights end their JV season with a record of 13-11 overall and 5-7 in the conference.

Side Note...

Attendees of the match were given Senior Night programs.

In the program, the three seniors were asked, among other questions, about their most exciting volleyball moment. The following were their responses:

Kaitlyn Zelhart: "Beating Dee-Mack last year in the conference tournament championship."

Jordan Wheeler: "My first pancake."

Kasey Sedberry: "Going to state my 8th grade year." 
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights won their first game 25-14 over Flanagan-Cornell.
BLUE RIDGE VOLLEYBALL UPDATE: The Lady Knights won their junior varsity finale 25-13, 25-11 over Flanagan-Cornell.

Blue Ridge Football Game to be Televised on Mediacom

According to Blue Ridge High School's student announcements, the Knights' game at Fieldcrest will be on Mediacom Channel 22 next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday's broadcasts will be at 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, the game will be shown at 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Scheduled times will be subject to change. To see updated air times, visit http://www.mc22.net/.


J.J. Malone, Blue Ridge Soccer Will Play Jacob Hanselman, Monticello for Regional Title on Saturday

Updated October 13 at 12:59 p.m.

MONTICELLO, Ill. -- In the Sages' 3-0 victory over Olympia in the Monticello Regional semifinal match, they were led by a player whom Blue Ridge soccer fans may see as a familiar foe.

Earlier in the regular season, Jacob Hanselman scored the match-winning goal with 5:21 left in Monticello's 3-2 victory over the Knights.

Against the Spartans, Hanselman received a pass from Eli Smith and found the left side of the net with 10:55 left in the first half to give the Sages a 2-0 lead. Then, with 34:10 left in the second half, he set up Matt Wells for a shot toward the middle of the net to put Monticello up 3-0.

"We need to do the best we can to try to shut down Jacob Hanselman," Blue Ridge senior forward J.J. Malone said.

Junior defender Travys Nichols said Blue Ridge will not try a different game plan to keep Hanselman in check this time around.

"We just have to play our game like we know to play it," Nichols said.

If Blue Ridge wins the regional championship, it will be one step ahead of where the Knights finished last year. In the 2010 season, the Knights lost to Warrensburg-Latham 1-0 in a regional final match.

Their regional championship match against Monticello will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m.

The winner of that match will play in the Warrensburg-Latham Sectional semifinal against the winner of the Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central Regional on Tuesday at 4 p.m..

Side Note...

Monticello's go-ahead goal against Olympia was scored by Corbin McCall with 16:29 left in the first half. That goal was assisted by Hanselman as well.
MONTICELLO REGIONAL UPDATE: The Sages beat Olympia 3-0 to earn a chance to play against Blue Ridge for the regional title.
MONTICELLO SOCCER REGIONAL UPDATE: The Sages lead 2-0 over Olympia at halftime.

Blue Ridge Athletes of the Month -- September

According to Blue Ridge High School's student announcements, the following athletes have won the honor of Athlete of the Month in September in their respective sports:

Football -- Devin Voyles

Sports Thread Honorable Mention -- Johnny Bruden

Volleyball -- Kaitlyn Zelhart

Soccer -- J.J. Malone

Golf -- Mason Potts and Megan Tsevelekos

Sports Thread Honorable Mention -- Austin Maxwell and Amber Tsevelekos

Record-Tying Goal Scorer J.J. Malone Leads Blue Ridge to 6-0 Monticello Regional Semifinal Win over Heyworth

MONTICELLO, Ill. -- By scoring five goals against the Hornets, J.J. Malone increased his goal total to 159 for his career.

Malone is now tied in the Illinois state record books for the most goals scored in a career. He shares the record with Billy Savarino, who scored 159 goals for Chicago Brother Rice from 1990-93.

"It's definitely a big deal," Blue Ridge coach Marty Price said. "Hopefully, he can get another goal before the season's over, and he'll own the state record instead of being tied for it."


However, Malone (pictured above) said another goal ranks higher on his mind.

"[The record] feels pretty good, but I'm just more worried about our championship game at regionals here," Malone said.

With his five goals, including four in the second half, Malone gave his Blue Ridge team a chance at winning the Monticello Regional. The Knights scored five goals in the second half to blow past the semifinal match against Heyworth.

"They played really good," Price said. "We had a slow first half, but in the second half, they played like they normally do. I'm pleased with the team. We're going into Saturday now. We'll be ready."

Malone put Blue Ridge ahead in the first half with 11:29 left in the first half. He maneuvered past multiple Hornet defenders on the right side of the net and kicked in the goal from the middle past Heyworth goalkeeper Wesley Anderson.

The goal was assisted by Ian Riggs (pictured above) and came after multiple chances put onto the net. In the game's first eight minutes, Malone took a shot that was saved by Anderson and another that was blocked by Neil Duffy.

Conner Builta (No. 11, pictured below) set up Malone with a mid-air pass. But with more than 22 minutes left in the first half, Anderson made the save on a dive toward the left side of the net.

Anderson finished the match with 21 saves.

In the second half, Malone took a diagonal shot from the left side of the net for his second goal of the match with 29:29 left. Jon Jones (No. 15, pictured above) recorded the assist.

With 26:56, Coale Dolbert (pictured below) got Blue Ridge's only non-Malone goal of the match, taking a shot from the middle that went in the net on the upper-left side. Malone was credited with the assist.

Malone's next goal, however, was unassisted. With 10:32 left, Malone rebounded a shot by Jones that hit the left goalpost and put the ball into the net on the right side.

With 7:00 left, Builta assisted Malone on his fourth goal of the match.

At the 3:57 mark, Riggs recorded his second assist of the match to help Malone put the icing on the cake.

The Knights finished the game out-shooting Heyworth 42-4. Josh Plunk (pictured below) had three saves to preserve the shutout.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves to a record of 18-2-3. The Knights will play in the Monticello Regional on Saturday.

They will play against the winner of Wednesday's semifinal match between Monticello and Olympia, which will kick off at 4:30 p.m.

"Hopefully, we can come out and get business done on Saturday," Price said.

"Monticello's a good team," Malone said. "I'd say it's 50/50; whoever play better that day, it's all theirs."

Side Note...

Malone's 61 goals this season rank fourth on the IHSA record books for most goals scored in a season.

He is only one goal shy of third place, which is held by Kevin Schmidt. Schmidt scored 62 goals for Hinckley-Big Rock in 1980.

Robert Meschback holds record, scoring 71 goals for Chicago Gordon Tech in 1976. Jose Esparaza (Blue Island Eisenhower, 1992) is second in the record books with 65 goals.