VOLLEYBALL - GALESBURG REGIONAL

Tom Batters
Dunlap sophomore Jamie Nichting

It was only fitting that the volleyball match between Dunlap and Richwoods Wednesday ended with a thundering kill from senior Claire Peterson.

The Dunlap senior had 11 kills to led the Eagles to an action-packed road win over the Knights.

“Peterson really killed us,” said Richwoods coach Ben Fisher. “We had a lot of trouble blocking her shots tonight. (Kedryn) Orrison was tough to stop, too. Dunlap has some great athletes. They’re going to be a tough team to stop.”

Orrison, a junior, had eight kills, in the match that had an intense playoff feel.

Dunlap won the first set, 25-20. Richwoods, led by senior Cora Nott (15 kills, five digs) took the second set, 25-22. The Eagles stormed out to  10-3 early lead and took the second set, 25-20.

These two teams could meet again Saturday in the championship game of the Galesburg Regional.

Dunlap plays Galesburg and Richwoods plays Peoria Notre Dame Thursday in the semifinals. The winner of that Regional advances to the Dunlap Sectional, which starts Nov. 3.

“If we’re going to win it, we’ll likely have to face Dunlap again,” Fisher said. “But, even though they beat us tonight, I like our chances. I think we’re playing really well. Tonight, Dunlap played a little better. You have to give them credit.”

Dunlap coach Pat Garst does not want anyone penciling his team into the Regional title game yet, though.

“Anybody can win that Regional,” he said. “Galesburg is an athletic team, and Notre Dame has a lot of talented players. Whoever gets on a roll will win it.”

I will take the easy way out and agree with Garst. I’m not going to make a bold prediction in this one.

I have not seen Galesburg play, but I have seen Dunlap, Richwoods and Notre Dame. All of those teams have a legitimate chance to win this Regional.

Dunlap, which will have the extra incentive to make it back to its home floor for the Sectional, has played well since switching to a 5-1 offense (only one setter instead of two).

Senior setter Kori Densberger (25 assists against Richwoods) is averaging more than 20 assists per match over the past month.

“Kori is a great leader,” Peterson said. “She does everything out there.”

Against Richwoods, Densberger set up Orrison, Peterson and sophomore Jamie Nichting for several powerful kills. Morgan Baumgarten had eight digs and Hannah Hilyard added five blocks for Dunlap.

“We have a balanced team. Everybody is contributing,” said Peterson, who is healthy after battling an ankle injury earlier in the season.

Richwoods also has a pretty good setter in senior Krista Moery (33 assists against Dunlap).

“You’re not going to find many players who can run an offense as good as she does,” Fisher said.

Fisher said he never likes to lose, but the losing to Dunlap did not bother him too much.

“Both teams played well, and there was an exciting playoff atmosphere,” he said. “Even though we lost, I think that match helped us gear up for the postseason.”

The Knights beat Peoria Notre Dame three times during the season.

Are the Irish “due” to break that streak?

I wouldn’t count them out.

Notre Dame senior Ashley Voudrie is arguably the best overall player in the area, and she has a talented supporting cast led by senior Elle Bielfeldt and junior Kristin Itschner.

This Regional is wide open. The semifinals on Thursday and the title game on Saturday should all come down to the final set.