LELAND – During a volleyball match that didn’t highlight either team’s ability to handle serve receive in an effective manner, Somonauk and Leland instead impressed from the service line.
Both teams combined for 31 aces, with the Panthers getting 16 while the Bobcats followed with 15.
While Leland owned the first set with eight aces, Somonauk roared back to tally 12 in the final two sets for a come from behind 18-25, 25-13, 25-18 Little Ten Conference victory Tuesday evening during homecoming week for the Panthers.
“Leland came out with some solid top-spin serves that we’re not used to seeing very much, and that really threw us off in the first set,” SHS coach Aleesha Carlson said. “But in the second and third games, we adjusted very well and produced some pretty nice service runs of our own to come back that set us up to eventually win the match.
“I was very happy with the way we bounced back after a bad first set.”
The Bobcats (4-8, 3-2 LTC) received a game-high 11 kills, eight points and three aces from senior Karlee McBride. Junior serving specialist Whitney Andrews (11 points six aces) paced Somonauk, while senior libero Aubrey Westbrook (nine points, four aces, 15 digs) also was solid. Seniors Sydney Johnson (17 assists) and Aletheia Johnson (11 digs) also contributed to the Bobcats’ winning mix.
Leland (0-9, 0-2) received a team best nine points and five aces from senior Jessica Barry, while sophomore Brynn Pennington (seven points, three aces), senior Julia Winckler (four points, four aces, four kills) and sophomore Malayna Kinney (three points, three aces) helped start the Panthers out despite falling in the end.
“We had such a great first set, and then Somonauk got to us in the second and third games with two big serving runs that really put us behind, and we could never recover,” LHS coach Mandy Hawk said. “It was our first match back after 10 days off, and I was happy we had 16 aces. This was one of the best matches we’ve produced all season so far.
“We only have two seniors and a bunch of underclassmen, so I was super proud of the way we came out tonight and competed in front of a big crowd for us on homecoming week.”
The Panthers dominated the first set, taking a 6-1 lead after five straight service points and two aces from Barry. Leland would eventually extend its lead to its biggest at 22-13 after a well-placed ace from Pennington.
After a mini 5-2 rally by Somonauk, Panther freshman Grace Ackerman (three kills) closed out the first set with her lone ace on set point.
“We were feeling pretty good after going up one set,” Hawk said. “But after that, Somonauk really took control from there.”
Westbrook’s nine-point jump service run with three aces took the Bobcats 9-6 lead to 18-6. All that was left from there was for McBride to reel off the final four points, including an ace and senior Maggie Roberts (three kills, two blocks) middle kill on set point that sent the match into a winner-take-all third game.
“That serving run by Aubrey (Westbrook) was certainly the key to us evening up the match,” Carlson said. “Then we opened the third set with another big run of serves, which really saved us after a bad start.”
Andrews posted three aces and eight consecutive service points to give her team a 8-0 lead that started the deciding set. The Panthers could get no closer than 21-15 after back-to-back aces from Winckler before the Bobcats closed out the match.