Metamora’s defense was the difference Thursday in a 25-19, 25-15 win over visiting Pekin in a battle between the top volleyball teams in the Mid-Illini Conference.

The victory gave the Redbirds (15-2, 6-0) sole possession of first place in the conference.

The defending Mid-Illini champion Dragons (13-3, 5-1) dropped their first set and match since Sept. 2, when they lost in three sets to Class 4A opponents Belleville West and Quincy in a tournament at Quincy. Pekin had won 11 straight matches in straight sets.

Pekin’s timing was off Thursday despite Hannah Thompson’s 11 kills, 10 digs by Olivia Theleritis and eight assists by Molly Flannigan.

Coach Yvonne Thompson believes the Dragons will be better the second time around against Metamora. The teams will meet Oct. 17 at Pekin in the Dragons’ final home match of the season.

“Our girls will learn from this loss,” Thompson said. “They’ll be better prepared mentally the next time we play them.”

Kennedy Matthews had 17 assists and Reagan Begole had nine kills for Metamora.

“Our blockers did a good job,” said Metamora coach Tara Ballard. “It wasn’t necessarily that we were getting a lot of stat blocks, but we were getting a lot of touches.”

Two wins for Kelen: Kelen McDaniels won two individual events and was on a victorious relay team Tuesday, but the Pekin co-op girls swimming and diving team lost 99-84 to visiting Galesburg.

McDaniels won the 200 IM (2:19.04) and 100 butterfly (1:01.27). Jaidlyn Sellers, Sami Curtis, McDaniels and Claire Whiting won the 200 medley relay (season-best 1:59.86).

Sellers also won the 50 freestyle (:26.51) and Curtis also won the 100 breaststroke (1:19.20). Curtis touched out runner-up Abby Cermak of Galesburg, who was clocked in 1:19.67.

Sellers, Curtis, Whiting and Lauren Spanos won the 200 freestyle relay (1:50.32).

Pekin’s Grace Nieukirk and Darri Stuber placed second (6:33.39) and third (6:54.99) in the 500 freestyle.

Whiting and teammate Michaela Palka were second (1:09.71) and third (1:25.91) in the 100 backstroke.

Scary loss: Illinois Valley Central scored twice in the second half Thursday and beat visiting Pekin 2-1 in a non-conference boys soccer game.

Kaiden Truninger (52:44) and Seth Crull (54:58) tallied for the Grey Ghosts. Pekin responded with a penalty-kick goal at 76:11, but it wasn’t enough.

Dragons goalie Riley Bradshaw had two saves. IVC goal Mason Goss had eight saves.

“Another game that we dominated but couldn’t score,” said Pekin coach Gus Kormah. “We’ll get there.”

Court setback: Mid-Illini Conference girls tennis power Metamora defeated host Pekin 8-1 Tuesday at John Moss Courts.

Freshman Amara Howell posted the lone win for the Dragons (2-7, 1-4) beating her opponent 6-0, 6-3 at No. 4 singles.

Peoria Journal Star contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.