Panthers knocked out in Fairfield

GTNS photo by Andy Krutsinger

Lexie Magnani scrambles to keep the ball in play during Mt. Pleasant’s regional tournament opener at Fairfield on Wednesday.
GTNS photo by Andy Krutsinger Lexie Magnani scrambles to keep the ball in play during Mt. Pleasant’s regional tournament opener at Fairfield on Wednesday.

FAIRFIELD — Mt. Pleasant volleyball went into Fairfield on Wednesday night to try and upset the 14th-ranked Trojans in the first round of the regional tournament. The Panthers couldn’t steal a set from the heavily favored Fairfield squad, however, and the Trojans knocked out the Panthers in three sets (25-10, 25-15, 25-13).

Fairfield scored the first three points of the opening set, but Mt. Pleasant rallied back to tie the game, getting a kill from Maggie Cristoforo to get things started, and back-to-back kills from Sadie Carrasco, the first of which on a block, to tie it at 3-3.

Carrasco and Cristoforo each got another early kill to keep the Panthers close. Anni Liechty tied the game for the last time, getting a kill to knot the score at 6-6.

A handful of points later, Lyndi Vantiger scored on a diving dig attempt that sneaked over the net and onto the Fairfield side of the floor. The Trojans, however, would score the next nine points of the game, blowing the contest open. Fairfield had an 18-8 lead before Hannah Hess broke their streak with a kill, but the damage had been done. The Panthers only scored two more points after the game was 9-8, and Fairfield won 25-10.

Carrasco gave the Panthers an early lead in the second set, and Mt. Pleasant led 3-2 after five points. Fairfield led the rest of the way despite a couple of aces from Liechty and Vantiger. Mt. Pleasant once again trailed by just one point, at 9-8, but Fairfield finished the game on a 16-7 run to win 25-15.

Mt. Pleasant never had the lead in the third set. The closest the Panthers got was when they trailed 7-6. Cristoforo had a couple of late kills in the game, but the Trojans breezed through the third set to complete the sweep, winning 25-13.

After the game, Panther head coach David Streeter talked about the struggles of dealing with a fierce Trojan front line. Fairfield senior hitters Alison Godwin and Kara Jeffrey caused the Panthers headaches each time the two teams played.

“It’s difficult,” Streeter said. “A good defense is ran off a good offense. If you can keep the defense on their heels like they did to us in some of the rotations, it’s key. We hang with them until we got to eight or 12, and then we get stuck in a rotation that we just can’t get out of.”

Carrasco led the team in kills in their final game. Vantiger had the most digs for Mt. Pleasant.

Mt. Pleasant finished the year 4-29. overall. The Panthers’ lone conference win came in their final game at Keokuk, which the Panthers swept.

Mt. Pleasant also had one win over Washington in a tournament early this season. The Panthers were never able to defeat the two conference favorites, Fairfield or Ft. Madison.

Fairfield. The Trojans will face Ft. Madison in the regional semifinals on Tuesday, Oct. 23, with Cedar Rapids Xavier and Washington playing the other semifinal in Cedar Rapids.