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Panther volleyball team wins sectional title


Prairie Heights ended a six-year volleyball sectional title drought this past Saturday night in Albion with a 27-25, 25-19, 25-20 victory over Churubusco in the finals of the 2A Central Noble tourney.

“I’m just so happy for the girl, especially the seniors, many of whom have been on the varsity chasing this title for four years,” said head coach Tina Sailor, who directed the Lady Panthers to their last sectional championship in 2011. “They’ve been through a lot and it’s great to see all of their hard work pay off. The experience they’ve gained over those four years has made them a more confident and mentally-tough group.”

That mental toughness showed through in the clinching set against Churubusco, which cut what had been a 19-13 Heights lead to one. A tip by senior Jamie DeTro triggered a 5-1 surge which put the Lady Panthers on the brink of the title. Junior middle hitter Sierra Riehl then put them over the top with a resounding spike into the Lady Eagle court.

Riehl finished with 14 kills and five blocks in the title tilt. Senior Shelby Fish totaled five kills and a team-high 22 digs. Sophomore Grace Levitz served five aces, DeTro wound up with 25 assists and senior Sydney Rathburn garnered 16 digs.

Earlier in the day, Prairie Heights took out host Central Noble, 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 in the semifinal round. Riehl had 12 kills and two blocks, sophomore Maddie Harmes eight kills DeTro 17 assists and 13 digs, Fish 12 digs and senior Lydia Johnston three aces.

The 25-10 Lady Panthers advance to the 2A regional at LaVille this Saturday where they will meet Boone Grove in the second semifinal match. “We don’t know much about the team we will be facing in the regional, but at this point, it’s more about re-focusing on our play and working hard to prepare,” stated Sailor. “Prairie Heights has never won a regional and we would like to be the first team to bring the title home.”

Andrean and Blackhawk Christian square off in the first semifinal match, scheduled to get underway at 11 a.m. The finals take place that night at 8 p.m. with the winner advancing to the 2A semi-state set for October 28