Caleb Riordan | Ameritime Sports Writer
The South Iron Panthers Varsity Volleyball team improved to 12-6-1 and showed well in the SEMO Dig for Life tournament.
The tournament took place on September 10th and 11th and the Panthers had their hands full the whole time.
“We were in a very tough pool,” Head Coach Megan Williams said. “But we competed very well.”
The Panthers narrowly lost their first pool game to Northwest 25-24 and 25-23. South Iron followed that up with another loss to Cape Notre Dame in two sets, 25-23 and 25-22. Their final pool game came against Gideon, which they lost as well. It wasn’t until tournament play began that the Panthers found their rhythm. They beat Central, St. Vincent and Ellington all in straight sets. Their tournament ended when they once again fell short of Northwest in the semi-finals of their division’s bracket.
They followed up that tournament with a match against the Park Hills Central Rebels, and were able to beat the Rebels in four sets. Maddie Ayers was the co-leader in kills with 11 and she also added ten digs. Drew Gayle led the team in digs with 18 and assists with 23, while Megan Lashley racked up 11 kills and 15 digs. Anna Parker also had 15 digs.
“My girls played hard tonight and focused on the little things,” Williams said. “I was proud of how hard we worked and how we stayed focused throughout the game.”
They carried some of that focus over into the Clearwater Invitational that took place on September 18th. They took home second place after beating Bunker in the semi-finals and losing to Ellington in the championship.
“I was proud of how hard my girls worked all day and competed,” Williams said. “I saw a lot of good things but we also know there is still a lot we need to clean up and keep working on.”
They jumped straight from that tournament into a match with Meadow Heights. South Iron picked up the victory in four sets, and Ayers had her fingerprints all over this one. She led the team in kills with 21 and put together 21 digs as well. Gayle led in assists with 29, picked up 18 kills, 20 digs and 14 service points. Lashley led in digs with 25 digs and chipped in 13 kills., and Dinkins contributed 24 assists, nine kills and nine digs.
“My girls started strong and stayed strong throughout the match,” Williams said. “We played really strong defense and were attackers the entire game. I am excited to keep seeing my girls get stronger each day.”
The Panthers then matched up with Ellington once again last Friday, and they beat the Whippets in three straight sets. Ayers led the team in kills again with 18 and digs with 25, while also racking up 15 service points. Gayle led the squad in assists once again with 23 and also added 14 kills and 15 digs. Parker finished with 100% serves received and 16 digs.
“We passed the ball really well on serve and receive, and played awesome defense,” Williams said. “We were also able to attack the ball well tonight because our passes were almost always in system. I am super proud of my girls and how hard they worked tonight.”
The Panthers now sit at 12-6-1 with about a quarter of the season left to go. South Iron has faired well so far and they are sure to improve before the postseason hits. Next, they take on Eminence on Tuesday, September 28th.