GARDNER — Momentum appeared to be on PikeView’s side.
PikeView won the second set in the Class AA, Region 3, Section 2 championship match against James Monroe on Wednesday evening, and jumped out to an early lead in the all-important third set.
That is when Cassie Weikle and the Mavericks went on a 9-0 run, pulling away, and then putting it away in the fourth set, claiming the sectional title with a 25-16, 18-25, 25-12, 25-22 win over PikeView.
Weikle had perhaps the biggest contribution during that run, collecting three consecutive kills from her spot in the middle of the front row at the net.
“I was just trying to help out the team,” Weikle said. “We were kind of down and I was just trying to get the momentum into play, that is all I was trying to do.”
She did it well, and so did the rest of the Mavericks, which improved to 28-3-1 on the season, with one win needed at Saturday’s Region 3 tournament at Independence to advance to the Class AA state tourney next week in Charleston.
“That is our goal, I know the seniors are really, really wanting it and it is their last year for it so I know they are really pushing for it, and so am I,” said Weikle, a sophomore at James Monroe, which lost in the Class AA state finals in 2008. “We are all wanting to get there.”
So is PikeView, which dropped to 29-13-2, but are one of three teams to defeat the Mavericks this season.
“I think these two teams are really good teams,” PikeView coach Steve Compton said. “I like playing James Monroe, but we are both looking forward to this Saturday, I think we really are.”
Westside and Independence are slated to meet for the Section 1 title tonight, and will serve as the regional opposition.
“The two winners go to states, even though the regional championship hasn’t been played,” Compton said. “Win that first one and you can breathe easy before you have to play the regional championship.”
PikeView, which lost to James Monroe in a winner’s bracket game on Monday, defeated River View in the opener on Wednesday, setting up a rematch with the Mavericks. The Panthers would have needed to win twice to claim the sectional crown.
“First of all, it is James Monroe and PikeView,” Compton said. “We could play terrible all week and then when we play James Monroe it just sparks something in us.
“We played them on Monday, and we kind of let them get on us and we just like couldn’t dig out from underneath them. Tonight they just stayed in and fought and fought and fought, it was a great match.”
Each club controlled the first two sets, with the Mavericks taking a 1-0 lead, and PikeView tying it in the second. That early lead was a welcome sight to James Monroe coach Renee Wilson.
“As long as we get up at the beginning we do okay for the rest of the game,” Wilson said. “Usually we are slow starters, if I can get them out of that then we do okay the rest of the night.”
The Panthers took an early 5-3 lead in the third set when James Monroe took control, pulling ahead at 6-5 on a kill by sectional most valuable player Brooklyn Burdette, and then Weikle followed with three straight kills to spur that 9-0 run.
James Monroe arrived at PikeView fully expecting to leave with the sectional title.
“We did actually, we lost to PikeView once this season, but we just knew we could beat them,” Weikle said. “We didn’t come in cocky or anything, we knew that we could lose so we just tried to play our best.”
They did just that over that stretch, also getting three aces and eight service points from Bailee Jackson to pull away for the third set win.
“When it is like that, usually what happens is somebody just makes a bunch of mistakes and it is over, but every point was earned,” Compton said. “You can’t take anything away from either team, all the way up to 25, it was a great match.”
PikeView had early control the fourth and final set, which included eight ties and two lead changes. The Panthers kept fighting off the Mavericks until a kill by Laine Shiflet put James Monroe up to stay at 22-21.
“We were fighting,” Weikle said. “We just wanted it more than PikeView, I guess.”
James Monroe finished it off with a kill by Kayla Via, who had four kills. Burdette contributed 10 kills, while Shiflet added nine kills and 12 digs. Mikaila Moran had five kills, while Ragan Sibold added 12 assists and Isabella Pitzer had 11. Rebecca Ratliff contributed 11 digs.
“They showed a little bit of fight tonight,” Wilson said. “We have got good blockers and we work on it, and we will work a little bit more.”
PikeView was led by Haleigh Compton with 16 kills and three blocks, one of just two seniors, who continues to be one of the state’s best performers.
“I have coached her for four years, and I am really proud of her,” Steve Compton said. “I know she is my daughter, but she is really good.”
Audrey Higgins added 13 kills for PikeView, while Mackenzie Bridges (4 kills), Kaleigh Peyton (3 kills), Savanah Coalson (2 kills) and Shelby Compton (2 kills) also benefitted from 40 assists by Kaylyn Bridges.
Both teams return to action on Saturday at Independence, and both teams feel like they’re good enough to keep playing for another week.
“Oh definitely, they have got to play like they just played, we will be all right if we play like we just played,” Wilson said. “We have seven seniors so you have to expect a lot out of seven seniors.”
“I absolutely think they can,” added Compton, of his Panthers. “If they take their game tonight to Saturday, there is no doubt in my mind.”
In the earlier match with River View, Compton led PikeView with 10 kills, four aces and two blocks, while Higgins had nine kills. Mackenzie Bridges contributed four kills, while Coalson added five aces. Abby Lester had seven aces, and Kaylyn Bridges dished out 22 assists.
Burdette led the all-sectional team, picking up MVP honors. The rest of the honorees included Via and Rebecca Ratliff of James Monroe and PikeView’s Haleigh Compton and Higgins. Others include Bluefield’s Destinee Stepheny and Laela Jones, Mount View’s Paige Short and Chantelle Vinyard and River View’s Leah Hicks and Lindsey Meade.
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