Volleyball File Art

PEOTONE — It’s easy to possibly lose sight of the task at hand when a team takes time to celebrate its senior class before a match. However, that was not the case for the Peotone girls volleyball team as the Blue Devils went on to bump past Kankakee 28-26, 25-21 to win in straight sets.

“I think we really pushed to find our energy and momentum and I think that’s what led us to win,” Peotone senior Grace Renier said.

Although the box score shows little resistance from the Kays, Peotone had to dig itself out of a major hole starting in the first set when the Blue Devils were forced to call a timeout down 9-3 after having handed the Kays five free points off various unforced errors.

“I think there was just a lot going on tonight and so our minds were in another place early on in that match,” said Blue Devils coach Kathy Barger. “Once they re-focused and got down to business we were able to battle back.”

Shortly after the timeout Peotone went on a 6-0 run that was led by back-to-back aces from Delaney Balmer. It helped the Blue Devils close the gap and trim Kankakee’s lead to three points. It was at this point, after Kankakee had quickly countered with its own 3-0 run to go up 15-10, that Peotone started to find its groove.

Trialing by five points midway through the first set the Blue Devils then went on to spark three more separate runs which varied from 3-4 points to help put themselves in position to take their first lead at 25-24 since the match’s opening point due to Kankakee’s Breanna Lamie getting called for an illegal hit.

Each team then traded points back and forth until Amanda Hasse sealed the 28-26 win for the Blue Devils with a game-winning stuff block.

“We made more mistakes down the stretch than Peotone did and I give them credit for coming back because we were up 12-4 and they pecked away until they got all the way back,” Kays coach Dennis Pommier said.

The second set started out with ties at 1, 2 and 3 before the Blue Devils started to build a slim lead. Peotone clanged around a three-point lead until midway through the second set when Renier caught fire. She scored five of her team’s eight points during an 8-3 Peotone run on four kills and a block to help her squad gain some breathing room by taking a commanding 20-11 lead in set two.

“My girls were really on fire early on in the second set and then we started to send too many free points to Kankakee which kind of let them back in the game, but we prevailed and figured out what we had to do,” Barger said.

Kankakee then responded with its own 8-1 run that was predominantly led by Chloe Blakey, who totaled two kills and two aces during that stretch to help cut the Kays deficit to two points. At that point, Kankakee looked to have gone cold as the Blue Devils went on to quickly finish things by going on a 4-1 run to end it straight-sets.

“I think we did very good tonight,” Renier said. “I think we had the perfect mindset throughout the match and we all worked together which is why I think we were able to pull off the win.”

Despite the quick defeat, many players on the Kays roster believed this was a good test see how they stack up against some of the area teams.

“I’m very happy with our performance because our conference isn’t very hardcore,” Jackson said. “So to get these out-of-conference matches to actually challenge us it’s good for us and our program.

“I think it made everyone feel good that we hung with Peotone tonight.”

STAT BOOK

Reiner led the Blue Devil attack with six kills. Abby Bostrom totaled 13 digs and three kills and Lily-Grace Stupegia chipped in 19 digs.

Blakey led the Kays offense with a team-high four aces. Lamie and Kasey Spears also added aces.

UP NEXT

The Blue Devils are on the road at 6 p.m. in Wilmington today. The Kays are at Thornwood at 5 p.m. Monday.

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.