Blue Ridge Volleyball Loses Key HOIC Game to Heyworth; Kaitlyn Zelhart Records Kill No. 1,000

Updated Wednesday at 11:48 a.m. CST.

HEYWORTH, Ill. -- Kaitlyn Zelhart spiked, tipped and hit her way to 17 kills against the Lady Hornets.

With those kills, Kaitlyn Zelhart (No. 5, pictured below) reached the milestone of 1,000 for her career. The previous Lady Knights record was 600.

"[It's a] great accomplishment for her," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "She’s a rarity in a small school to have that talent and true passion for the game. She deserves all the accolades coming her way. She’s just a great human being."

After the match, however, Kaitlyn Zelhart was seen crying, and not tears of joy. That was because, with first place in the Heart of Illinois Conference on the line, Blue Ridge lost the last two games against Heyworth en route to a 20-25, 25-22, 25-15 match defeat.

"I would rather have gotten the win," Kaitlyn Zelhart said. "It's a great accomplishment individually because I worked so hard for it, but I'd trade that for a win any day."

In the first game, Blue Ridge got off to a strong start, taking a 7-1 lead. After Heyworth tied the game at 1-1, Emily Zelhart (No. 12, pictured above) made two diving plays to save points for the Lady Knights and help give them a 3-1 lead.

After the second of those diving plays, Katilyn Zelhart got the kill. Then she gave Blue Ridge a 4-1 lead with a spike that thwarted a block attempt by the Lady Hornets' Cassidy Kingery.

Blue Ridge took its biggest lead at 15-6 with a Kaitlyn Zelhart serve on which Kate Tucker ducked, thinking the ball would go out of bounds.

Then the Lady Knights regained a nine-point advantage when two Jordan Wheeler (pictured below) serves, the second on which Chelsea Hinthorn hit the ball backwards, gave Blue Ridge leads of 20-12 and 21-12.

The Lady Knights got the 25th point of the first game when Kaitlyn Zelhart and Jessica Schrock approached the net for the block.

"First set, if we can harness that into the rest of the season and postseason…that was a lot of fun," Miles said.

In the second set, the Lady Hornets increased an 8-6 lead to 17-9 by scoring nine of the next 12 points, including the first seven points. All seven of those points were scored while Kingery was serving for Heyworth.

After the Lady Hornets got their 17th point of the second game on a Claire Reinthaler kill, Blue Ridge scored the side-out point when Kaitlyn Zelhart tapped a ball over the net that hit the floor despite a diving dig attempt by Rachel Brown.

From there, the Lady Knights scored the next four points to cut the deficit to 17-14, the last of which was recorded on a Chandler Morrow (pictured below) serve that Heyworth could not return.

After Heyworth got the side-out point to make the score 18-14, Blue Ridge scored the next four points to tie the second game. Two of those points were scored on Emily Zelhart serves that hit the net and bounced over it.

After the tying score, some Blue Ridge fans were chanting, "she's a freshman."

On Emily Zelhart's following serve, she would show her age, as her serving error made the score 19-18 in favor of Heyworth. The Lady Hornets scored the next two points to take a lead they would not surrender.

"We had our chances [in the second set], but we just had a crucial mis-serve, and that kind of shifted the momentum down the end of that second set."

In the third game, Heyworth took early leads of 3-0 and 4-1. Two of those first four points were scored on serving errors by Blue Ridge, one from Wheeler and the other by Morrow.

A block and a kill from Kaitlyn Zelhart and a serve from Emily Zelhart tied the third game at 4-4. The Lady Knights tied the game at 10-10 and took a 11-10 lead on two consecutive points scored via Schrock (pictured below) serves.

However, Heyworth scored the next four points to take a 14-11 lead. The Lady Hornets led the rest of the way en route to clinching the match victory.

"Third set, I wasn’t pleased, obviously," Miles said. "We lost our composure on the mental side of the game."

Kaitlyn Zelhart finished the match with 5.5 blocks along with her 17 kills.

Emily Zelhart had 17 assists, 14 digs, seven points and two aces. Wheeler contributed four service points and three aces.

With the loss, Blue Ridge sees its record drop to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the HOIC while Heyworth improves to 22-1 overall and 10-0 in the conference.

The Lady Knights' next match will be at home against Lexington on Thursday.

"The sun comes up tomorrow," Miles said. "We still have the conference tournament and regional time, and that’s my main focus. Finishing in the top four in the conference was our goal because this conference is ultra-competitive in volleyball. My main focus is at regional, so if we come to perform and gel together and learn how to overcome those hurdles, we’ll be fine. We have the skill sets in place; we just can’t doubt our own abilities."

Blue Ridge's volleyball program as a whole did not leave Heyworth without a win. The junior varsity team beat the Lady Hornets 25-21, 23-25, 15-10.

In the third game, the Lady Knights' JV team (pictured above) scored five consecutive points after trailing 4-1, taking a 5-4 lead on a bump shot by Miranda Gillis that hit the floor on Heyworth's side.

After Heyworth tied the game at 6-6, Korie Reynolds spiked the ball over the net to give Blue Ridge the go-ahead side-out point. From there, the Lady Knights never trailed.

T-Ann Crozier led the Blue Ridge JV team with 11 kills and one block. Courtney Cox recorded seven assists.

Side Note No. 1...

Not all members of the Blue Ridge community left Heyworth disappointed about the Lady Knights' loss.

Girls golf team members (and former volleyball players) Melinda Wilson (pictured below, on right) and Jacquelyn O'Neal (pictured below, in center) were on hand, wearing Heyworth shirts and holding a sign supporting the Lady Hornets.

They said they rooted against Blue Ridge because of some ill feelings toward head coach Evan Miles.

"He's a creep," O'Neal said.

However, it should be pointed out that the sign read, "Go Heyworth and Jordan." I'm assuming the Jordan they were supporting was Jordan Wheeler.

Side Note No. 2...

Anyone who would like to hear a replay of the Blue Ridge/Heyworth match can do so by downloading a free podcast on Wednesday at http://www.sportstownchicago.com/.

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