Pekin never won its invitational volleyball tournament with Yvonne Thompson as coach until last year.
Now the Dragons have won the eight-team tournament two years in a row.
They were perfect Saturday in the Pekin Invitational, rolling through five matches without losing a set. They beat Deer Creek-Mackinaw 25-18, 25-20 in the tournament championship match at Dawson Gym.
“Everyone on our team was solid and very effective all day,” said Thompson, in her 18th season as coach.
“We played with a lot of energy and I could see our team chemistry and confidence in each other get stronger,” she said. “I hope that continues.”
Pekin is 20-4, but only 5-2 halfway through the Mid-Illini Conference schedule after going 14-0 in conference play last year en route to its first Mid-Illini title.
Unforced errors played big roles in back-to-back losses to conference rivals Metamora (Sept. 21) and Limestone (Sept. 26).
Thompson is hoping a lineup tweak she made after the Limestone defeat will continue to pay dividends like it did in a 25-18, 26-24 win Thursday over conference foe Dunlap and again Saturday.
The Dragons defeated Dee-Mack (25-8, 25-19), Peoria Notre Dame (25-15, 25-18) and Illinois Valley Central (25-18, 25-14) in tournament pool play.
Then they victimized defending Class 2A state champion Eureka in the semifinals (25-15, 25-19) before beating Dee-Mack again in the championship match.
Hannah Thompson had 18 kills, Olivia Theleritis had seven digs, Molly Flannigan had 13 assists and Lauren Juergens had three blocks for Pekin in the title match.
Dee-Mack bounced back after losing to Pekin in pool play to make it all the way to the finals.
The Chiefs needed three sets to beat Notre Dame (25-20, 17-25, 15-12) and IVC (25-12, 24-26, 15-11) in pool play, then defeated Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (25-13, 25-20) in the semifinals.
Eureka defeated Sacred Heart-Griffin 25-17, 25-20 in the third-place match.
Pekin’s Hannah Thompson and Maddy Cash were named to the all-tournament team along with Dee-Mack’s Ashley Melton and Carson Smalley, Eureka’s Courtney Heffren and Hailey Flowers, Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Renee Abernathy and Mary Helen Healy, IVC’s Hannah Benson, Notre Dame’s Rachel Kottoor, Olympia’s Emme Olson and Augusta Southeastern’s Lauren Glick.
Pekin beat Sacred Heart-Griffin 25-14, 25-19 in last year’s tournament championship match.
Volley for Down Syndrome: The Eureka volleyball team raised awareness for Down Syndrome on Tuesday night when the Hornets hosted Deer Creek-Mackinaw.
After participating in Volley for the Cure and other charitable matches, Eureka coach Tracy Heffren said she wanted to do something different — something that had an impact on her team and community.
Eureka wore the Down Syndrome colors of royal blue and yellow. There was a bake sale and donations were accepted for the HOI Down Syndrome Association.
The Hornets’ Maddie McCunn has a brother with Down Syndrome.
Peoria Journal Star contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.