It was a long day Saturday for the Pekin volleyball team. And a day of close matches.
The Dragons played five matches in the Pekin Invitational tournament. Three matches went to three sets. In the two-set matches, three sets were decided by a total of five points.
In the end, Pekin ended up with a second-place trophy in the eight-team tournament. Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin beat the Dragons 25-11, 19-25, 25-19 in the tournament championship match.
Pekin beat Eureka 13-25, 25-21, 15-10 in the semifinals. Deer Creek-Mackinaw beat Pekin 25-13, 27-26 in pool play. Then the Dragons defeated Chillicothe IVC 25-16, 22-25, 15-6 and Peoria Notre Dame 26-24, 25-23 in their other pool matches.
Pekin coach Yvonne Thompson said she liked her team’s fight and resolve during the tournament, but the matches also showed its season-long battle with inconsistency.
“We’re still looking for a Hannah Thompson. Someone who steps up when things are going bad and says, ‘Enough is enough,’” the coach said, referencing her daughter, a former Pekin star who is now a freshman standout at Bradley.
Sacred Heart-Griffin raced to a 16-2 lead in the first set against Pekin and cruised to the win.
The second set was tied 9-9 before the Dragons reeled off six straight points to move in front 15-9. SHG never was closer than five points the rest of the way.
A six-point run by SHG that broke a 13-13 tie put the Cyclones ahead for good in the third set.
Pekin’s Emma Clark had nine kills in the championship match. Logan Finneran dished out 20 assists and had eight digs, Anna McGovern had three blocks and Briona Beckham had two aces for the Dragons.
Pekin’s statistical leaders for the tournament were Clark (61 kills and seven aces), Finneran (75 assists), McGovern (7.5 blocks), Olivia Evans (48 digs) and Briona Beckham (44 digs).
Pekin’s Clark and Evans were named to the all-tournament team along with Jade Tapscott and Faith Washko from Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Dee-Mack is represented on the all-tournament team by Addy Gruse and Morgan Burr. Eureka’s Hailey Flowers and Courtney Heffren, Notre Dame’s Olivia Book, IVC’s Hope Allen, Olympia’s Kaelyn Leverson and Port Byron Riverdale’s Brooke Smeltzly round out the honor squad.
Eureka beat Dee-Mack 25-22, 25-15 in the tournament’s third-place match.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.