Teams of the Week: PBL volleyball in spotlight

Teams of the Week: PBL volleyball in spotlight

Coach Kristin Oyer’s Panthers (23-3) are within one win of tying the school’s single-season mark for triumphs. PBL won the Sangamon Valley Conference title with an unbeaten league mark, topping 20-win Watseka and St. Joseph-Ogden teams. Hitter Kandace Hofer, blocker Kailey Kleinert, setter Kayla Cowan and defensive stalwart Jori Maynard are among the catalysts that also include underrated Kortnie Schroeder, versatile Amanda Ypya and consistent Kaylee Genzel. PBL hosts the conference tourney.

Coach Susan Kentner’s senior-laden squad has won 10 of its last 11 matches, including a two-set sweep against Armstrong-Potomac in the championship match of the Vermilion County Tournament. During the streak, all 10 of the wins have been in two sets. Setters Taylor Ellis and Lauren McKenzie have a strong arsenal of hitters, including Mary Bass, Abby Bergman, Brittany Spicer and Maranda Witty. Morgan Gerbsch is a pinpoint passer, and role players Jessica Hall and Maddie Winkler also excel. B-H has 13 county volleyball titles.

Year 4 of the Spartans’ program continues to be a season of firsts. Coach Richard Vetter’s squad won the school’s first regional championship (2-1 against Salt Fork/Westville) and pushed its school-record win total to 18-3-1. The first three years of the program produced 17 total wins. Austin Baker provided both of the Spartans’ goals and Kyle Roedl registered nine saves, including one on a late-match penalty kick. Roedl is among the six seniors who have been with the program since its inception.

In a win-or-face-playoff-elimination game at Iroquois West, coach Dan Hennessey’s Sabers (4-4) prevailed 44-12. St. Thomas More expanded a four-point halftime lead thanks to a balanced offense that generated 231 rushing yards (94 by quarterback Storm Joop) and 335 passing yards (a school-record total by Joop). Three receivers had at least four catches for St. Thomas More, which concludes its regular season schedule at home Friday against Rantoul, hoping to keep alive a sixth consecutive postseason berth.

Coach B.J. Zeleznik’s Panthers excelled on both sides of the ball, while winning their eighth consecutive game. In a 49-12 runaway against Flanagan/Cornell, the team amassed 344 rushing yards while limiting the Falcons to 6 rushing yards. Shane Bruning’s five-touchdown performance included 161 of the rushing yards. Nic Stevens was 7 for 7 on conversion kicks. The win sets up a showdown for the Heart of Illinois Conference title Friday, when LeRoy plays the other HOIC unbeaten, Tri-Valley, in Downs.