JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
The Neoga Regional Champion Stew-Stras Comets (22-15) hosted the Strasburg 1A Sectional tournament on Tuesday night and took on the Tri-County Titans. The Titans were just too strong on the attack and the Comets never got hot, losing 13-25, 19-25.
“Sad to season the season end like this, but not ashamed of who we were beaten by,” said Comet coach Ronda Schlechte. “Tri-County has a really nice defense with quick girls, who could reach any thing. We had a hard time finding the holes. Our passing was an issue in Game 1, but it got better in Game 2. This has to be addressed more for next season. We beat our goal of more wins this season than last we had a great season.”
Tri-County was taller, more experienced, covered the floor with impressive defense and were constantly on the attack, while Stew-Stras seemed to always off balance and on the defense.
The Titans top players included three senior and two juniors. Stew-Stras had just two seniors and their most productive players have been three juniors and a sophomore. Titan height and wingspan also enabled them to strike the ball more vertical than horizontal.
The Titans began the match hitting out. The Titans then killed off the net and killed off a block attempt and took the lead. The Titans served an error and missed a kill to give up the lead, 3-2. They came right back with a tip and tied the game, 3-3.
Kyla Skinner went to the line and served four straight points. Lizzy Barnard swung for a kill and Abby Smith tipped for a point. Kendall Knop had a good save for the Comets, but T-C still followed with a tip for a point. Barnard hammered another kill for a 7-3 lead.
Lindsay Burton rose up for a Comet block, but a service error gave the ball right back to T-C. Alternating service errors gave the ball back to T-C with a 9-5 lead.
Morgan Stremming went up for a tip block for Stew-Stras, 9-6. A bad pass gave T-C the ball again. Barnard went to the line and served five in a row. Her first serve forced a free ball that the Titans put away. T-C killed again, then Skinner powered a kill from the 2nd row, 13-6.
A long rally on the next point saw Mariah Tabbert take a great swing, but T-C dug it and got it back. Brittani Tabbert then took her shot at a kill, but again T-C dug it and returned it. Stew-Stras hit out, bringing a Comet time-out.
The Comets came back out to the floor, but Barnard greeted them with an ace. Brittani Tabbert took a swing and the Titans were in the net, 15-7. T-C answered with another kill off a Comet block.
Stew-Stras hit out, then committed four hits. Autumn Meyer served one of her three aces and the Comets called another time-out, down 19-7.
A service error gave the Comets the ball and the Titans took the Elizabeth Gratz serve and hit out. The Titans killed again off a block, 20-9.
Kendall Knop took a set to her left, faded back, off balance and hit it cross-court along the net for a point. Smith tipped over the Comets and got T-C the ball, 21-10.
Skinner then served four in a row to bring game point, 24-10. Knop had a tip for a point. Knop served and a long rally ensued. Knop had a great dig, then T-C hit out, 24-12. The Titans had lack of communication on the next point. But on the next point, T-C hit back to the Comet corner that was wide open, 25-13.
Stew-Stras won the first point again in game 2 off a Titan service error. A tit for tat game followed. The Titans tipped two straight for points. The Comets scored, then the Titans scored. Knop had a block to tie the score 3-3, then served. Barnard missed her only swing of the night and Stew-Stras had a 4-3 lead.
Skinner rocketed another kill from the 2nd row for a tie, then Smith served an ace, 5-4 Titans. Brittani Tabbert then blocked a kill to tie the game, 5-5. Barnard responded with a kill, then Brittani Tabbert killed off a block, 6-6.
The Titans missed a kill, then Barnard scored a kill. A bad Titan pass gave the Comets an 8-7 lead. Knop then shot a kill down the line for the biggest Comet lead off the night, 9-7.
T-C answered with a tip, then a block, then another Autumn Meyer ace, for a 10-9 lead. A service error tied it, 10-10. T-C then went on a 5-point run to pull away. The scored three kills in a row. Stew-Stras blocked a shot, it came back and they blocked it again, but a Titan tip finished the point. Another Titan kill put them up 15-10 and precipitated a Comet time-out.
After the pause, Stew-Stras missed a tip, then missed a kill, for Amber Meyer’s sixth straight point at the line, 17-10 Titans.
T-C was called in the net and senior Mariah Tabbert got one more trip to the line for her career. He served an the Titans hit out. She served again and teammate Lindsay Burton blocked a kill to close to within four points, 17-13.
Skinner killed of a block, then served an ace, 20-13. A service error gave Knop the serve, but Smith tipped again for a T-C point, 20-14. The Titans missed a kill and Burton went to the line. She served an the Titans missed another kill, 20-16.
T-C swung for the kill and the Comets called their last time-out. Back on the floor, the Titans killed again. Baylee Quast hit a quick kill instead of setting and the Comets got the ball down, 22-17. She served, but Barnard got another kill. On the next point, the Comets put the ball up in the rafters and couldn’t save it, bringing match point, 24-17.
In a last gasp, Brittani Tabbert swung for a kill, then T-C hit out, 24-19. Brittani Tabbert served again, but T-C gave a short set to angular sophomore Heidi Dague and she put it down on the Comet side for the match.
Kendall Knop led the Comet defense with eight digs of their 25 digs. Brittani Tabbert and Knop led at the net with seven of their just 9 kills. Quast and Kelsie Walden shared six of their nine assists and Knop had two. Burton and Brittani Tabbert had solo blocks, while Burton, Tabbert, Knop and Stremming had block assists.
By contrast, T-C swung for 30 kills. Senior Kyla Skinner had a match-high 14. Senior Amber Meyer dished out 28 assists and senior Autumn Meyer got down for 23 digs.
Tri-County was to play Arthur-Lovington in the Stew-Stras 1A Sectional championship on Thursday.
Strasburg 1A Sectional
Tri-County def. Stew-Stras, 25-13, 25-19
Stew stats: Brittani Tabbert 4 kills, 4 digs, 1 block, 1 block assist; Kendall Knop 3 kills, 2 assists, 8 digs, 1 block assist; Lindsay Burton 1 kill, 1 dig, 1 block, 1 block assist; Kelsie Walden 3 assists, 3 digs; Baylee Quast 1 kill, 3 assists, 2 digs; Elizabeth Gratz 4 digs; Morgan Stremming 1 assist, 1 dig, 1 block assist; Mariah Tabbert 1 dig; Sarah Locke 1 dig
Tri-County stats: Kyla Skinner 14 kills, 1 ace, 11 digs; Lizzy Barnard 7 kills, 2 aces, 4 digs; Abby Smith 6 kills, 1 block, 2 digs; Amber Meyer 1 kill, 28 assists, 2 digs; Autumn Meyer, 3 aces, 23 digs; Heidi Dague 2 kills; Madelyn Cottle 3 digs; Ami Meyer 3 digs.