By Rodger Wheeler (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In Molly Illum’s third year at Reeds Spring, the Lady Wolves reached its highest goal to date, a district championship and a trip into the Class 3 state volleyball playoffs. It would take a 3-set thriller against district top seeded Mt. Vernon, but Reeds Spring would get it done, 25-22, 22-25, 25-16.
“We just played five sets back-to-back-to-back,” said Illum after the win, “and I started to feel like we were close to hitting the wall mid-way through the fourth of those sets (the second set of the championship match against Mt. Vernon). But I pulled my four seniors aside and said it’s time for you to rally your teammates and get this done.”
And get it done, they did, scoring eight of the last nine points of the final set to secure a district title at Monett on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
All three sets saw the Lady Mt’neers get some sort of early lead but the Lady Wolves were resilient and never gave up. In the first set, Mt. Vernon’s lead was 7-3 before Reeds Spring scored seven of the next eight points, including taking its first lead at 9-8. The set stayed close, even being tied up at 16-16, but that is when the Lady Wolves scored five in a row, led by three kills by junior Bella Fuller, to go up 21-16 and never look back, taking the first set 25-22.
Mt. Vernon built a 10-5 cushion to open the second set but, once again, Reeds Spring rallied and eventually even took a brief 14-13 lead. After a Lady Mt’neer timeout, Cameryn Cassity put Mt. Vernon on her shoulders with three kills and Raegan Prescott added a kill and a service ace to give Mt. Vernon a 19-16 lead and they would hold on to take the second set 25-22.
Mt.Vernon’s Ellie Johnston gave the Lady Mt’neers two early kills to lead the third set 3-1, but senior Ellie Silvins got hot at the net with three kills in the game’s next five points. Once again, the Lady Wolves found a way to rally to take its first lead, this time at 9-8 on a decisive kill from Carley Reeves-Eakins. The third set stayed tight, 17-15 in favor of the number two seeded Lady Wolves, but that’s when Reeds Spring put it away, scoring six points in a row and eight of the last nine, including kills shots from Eakins (2) and Silvins (1), to earn the championship and a trip to the Class 3 state sectionals on Saturday, Nov. 2. Time, opponent and location have yet to be determined.
“This is huge for our program,” Illum said in-between post-game celebrations with her players. “These girls have worked extremely hard for this, starting way back in the summer and all the prep work we have put in. I couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished.”
Reeves-Eakins led Reeds Spring with 10 kills and two blocks, while Bella Fowler and Silvins added nine kills and Amarah Porter recorded 27 assists.
For Mt. Vernon, Ellie Johnston had 11 kills and two blocks and Cameryn Cassity added seven kills and three blocks. Lacy Stokes had 25 assists.