STREATOR – The noise in Lowell “Pops” Dale Gymnasium on Thursday night was deafening. It very well may have decided the Class 3A Streator Volleyball Regional.
With the three-game thriller between Morris and LaSalle-Peru hanging in the balance, the Redskins and Cavaliers’ fans were at a fever pitch when a miscommunication on the side of the locals led to a game-breaker.
Morris ended up serving out of turn after getting a net violation on L-P that temporarily gave the Redskins a late one-point lead. The out-of-rotation serve that ensued gave L-P the point back and the ball. Two service points later, the match ended in favor of the Cavaliers by a 25-9, 25-27, 28-26 outcome.
“It happened fast. We were all hyped up,” Morris junior Alex Kjellesvik said. “We were trying to focus and everything. I don’t know. It happens sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Kjellesvik had just served up what looked like the 26th point for Morris and a 26-25 lead on a net call by L-P. That’s when the confusion hit, and instead of Kjellesvik serving what could have been the match point, Kaylin Korte served – to which the referees stopped the action and awarded L-P the point. Shana Puetz then served out the match.
“It was so loud. I like that environment, but the girls couldn’t hear what I was trying to say. I was confirming to them that it was her [Kjellesvik’s] serve and we couldn’t communicate that,” Morris coach Jackie Litwiller said. “I also didn’t have a timeout to use. There was no other way to get the information to them. That it was [Kjellesvik’s] ball to keep serving. It was just a miscommunication. That’s what it was.”
It’s unfortunate that this one is going to be remembered for that instead of a great comeback by the Redskins. After being embarrassed in the first game, Morris came back and played evenly with a Cavaliers team that had beaten the Redskins twice already this season.
“We started to hit the ball and started to pick theirs up,” Litwiller said. “We knew what we could do, we just had to hit inbounds. That’s what got us in the game. That was our whole game plan – to get them frustrated. That’s when we were playing our game.”
Morris trailed in the second game 15-10 before putting on a stunning run in which the Redskins forged a 20-all tie. Then, in the final game, the two teams were tied 14 times before the miscommunication at the end.
Korte ended with nine kills, an ace and 16 digs; Abby Baker had six kills and two blocks; Morgan Hussey had 18 digs and an assist; JoAnna Nowicki had five kills and 14 digs; Taya Torkelson had 25 assists, an ace and six digs; and Cara Cummings had five kills.
“We never gave up,” Kjellesvik said. “We kept fighting, came together as a team and played to the end. We fought for everything. It sucks to lose, but it happens. We played our hearts out tonight.”
Morris ends the season at 19-15-1.