Godfrey, Ill. – Starting the 2011 playoffs on a high note, Lewis and Clark Volleyball defeated Rend Lake in five sets Wednesday night, and will go on to host the Region 24 Final Four Nov. 5-6 at River Bend Arena.
With a 22-18 regular season record, the women hit the road Wednesday, Nov. 2 to face off with the Warriors at a regional play-in game.
The ‘Blazers had a slow start after a number of unforced errors in game one, and were forced to make adjustments quickly.
"We were not playing badly, but we weren't playing to our potential either,” said head coach Meredith Heater. “We were missing serves and hitting balls out of bounds, and really not controlling the ball the way we should have.”
Errors continued in a very close game two, which L&C lost 23-25, but the Trailblazers wouldn’t let it be the end of their season.
According to Heater, a completely different team showed up in games three and four, led by the strong attacking of middle blocker Julie Ramsey, who finished with 16 kills on the night and was complemented by great defense from the back-row by Carly Bellm, Savannah Bates, Kristen Bowman and libero Brooke Beets, who finished the match with a personal best of 40 digs on the evening. The ‘Blazers came at the Warriors from all sides and quickly defeated them 25-17 in game three, and 25-11 in game four, forcing a fifth set.
Game five proved to be a nail biter from the start – remaining tied at almost every point from seven on. The Trailblazers made it to match point first at 14-13, but it would take two more match points before L&C finished the set with a block by Megan Plogger and Brittany Hardwick for a final score of 17-15.
The team also registered 9 aces, 3 solo blocks and a team high of 18 block assists. Setter Maddie Favuzza distributed the ball well and finished with 55 assists on the match, for an average of 11 per set. Tori Ballmann finished with 14 kills while Megan Plogger and Taryn Ballmann each chipped in 9 kills. Brittany Hardwick produced a great overall game with 8 kills, 9 blocks and an ace.
Looking ahead, Lewis and Clark will meet up with Parkland Community College (ranked No. 5 in the nation and defeated Danville Area Community College Wednesday) at noon on Saturday, Nov. 5 at River Bend Arena.
“We are thrilled about the opportunity to host this year, and excited that we will be participating as well,” Heater said. “The hosting duties rotate each year through the region, and it will be quite awhile before we get this ‘home-court’ advantage again, so I hope we take full advantage and achieve our goal of going to the national tournament. I look forward to seeing a loud and energetic crowd of Trailblazer fans pushing us to victory this weekend.”
Illinois Central College and Lincoln Land Community College, coming off wins against SWIC and Lincoln respectively, will face off at 2 p.m., also at River Bend Arena.
The winners of the two Saturday matches will face each other at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 for the Region 24 Championship and a trip to Nationals, which will be held Nov. 17-19 in Toledo, Ohio.
The consolation bracket will play out on Sunday, Nov. 6 – with the losers of the noon and 2 p.m. Saturday games facing one another at noon, and the loser of Saturday’s championship match taking on the winner of Sunday’s noon game at 3 p.m.