FISHER, Ill. -- After claiming three of their last four matches via winning the last two games of each match, the Lady Knights ran out of miracles against the Bunnies.
In the first game at Fisher, Blue Ridge committed a total of 14 unforced errors.
"That just can’t happen," Blue Ridge coach Evan Miles said. "Too many unforced errors was just the name of the game tonight. That just kills us."
A service error by Amber Blazek gave Fisher a 3-2 lead in the first game. Jessica Schrock gave Fisher a 9-5 lead when a spike attempt fell short of going over the net.
Still, Blue Ridge managed to stay in the game. After the Bunnies opened up a 16-12 lead, Kaitlyn Zelhart (pictured above) scored gave the Lady Knights four straight points to tie it up.
The tying point was set up by a one-handed, diving dig by Chandler Morrow.
After Blue Ridge tied the first game at 21-21, Fisher's Elyssa Browning gave the Bunnies the side-out point. Then a Carli Clifton serve gave Fisher a 23-21 lead when Blazek committed a hitting error while attempting to return the serve.
Another service error by Kasey Sedberry gave the Bunnies their 25th point of the first game.
In the second game, Blue Ridge opened up an 8-3 lead. Emily Zelhart (pictured above) gave the Lady Knights three of those eight points via serve, giving her team leads of 2-1, 4-1 and 6-1.
However, Fisher rallied to take a 10-8 lead. The ninth point was scored with a serve from Clifton, the 10th on a tip over the net by Browning.
Blue Ridge had to play the next two games without Jordan Wheeler (pictured below), who injured her left ankle.
"She’s a co-captain, she’s a senior, and we need her leadership out there, [but] it’s still volleyball, and you still have to play six players and learn how to play together," Miles said. "It’s one of those things where you miss all of her intangibles, but it’s going to give somebody else an opportunity to play and have their time to develop.”
One of the players taking advantage of the opportunity to shine was Courtney Cox.
After Blue Ridge turned a 12-10 deficit into a 12-12 tie, Cox gave the Lady Knights a 15-12 lead with three straight serves that were not returned by the Bunnies.
After Blazek gave her team a 16-12 with a block, Cox (pictured below) served Blue Ridge's way to two more points to make the score 18-12 in favor of the Lady Knights.
"We had some girls come in from JV that really hasn’t played a significant role [on the varsity level], and they did very well, especially in that second set," Miles said. "[Cox is] a junior. She hasn’t gotten a lot of time at the varsity level, but I know her serving is very consistent. She has a good attitude."
In the third game, Blue Ridge scored five straight points to turn a 3-3 tie into an 8-3 lead. Three of those points were scored via Emily Zelhart serves.
The Lady Knights took an 11-6 lead with a Schrock spike down the middle. From there, however, Fisher scored seven of the next eight points to take a 13-12 lead.
After struggling to hold onto the lead, Blue Ridge let it slip away, as Schrock failed to tap the ball over the net with the score tied at 19-19. From there, Fisher never trailed.
The Bunnies got the last two points of the match via spikes from Jacy Cochran.
Kaitlyn Zelhart finished the match with 21 kills, 16 digs and three blocks. Morrow (pictured below) had 16 digs as well.
Cox had one ace and seven service points. Emily Zelhart contributed 24 assists, five aces and 10 service points.
With the loss, Blue Ridge falls to 19-5 overall and 8-3 in the Heart of Illinois Conference. Fisher climbs to 7-3 in the HOIC.
The Lady Knights will hold their Senior Night on Thursday when they play against Flanagan-Cornell. Wheeler's status for that match is uncertain.
"I know the trainer’s going to look at [the ankle] again tomorrow and kind of re-assess, but we’re not going to rush her back by any means," Miles said. "She’s got time, and we don’t want to prematurely get her back."
Meanwhile, Blue Ridge's junior varsity team, two days after winning the Heritage JV Tournament, beat Fisher 27-25, 25-18.
The Lady Knights overcame a 25-24 deficit to pull out a win in the first game. Korie Reynolds got the go-ahead point after Megan Tsevelekos dived on the floor for a dig.
Cox got the match-winning point for the Blue Ridge JV team in the first game. In the second game, the Lady Knights led 24-12 en route to a victory.