Blues Snap Skid

Blues Snap Skid

FIGHTING BLUE junior middle blocker Jordan Dawson serves while teammate Sydney Taylor watches. Dawson had two kills, one assist and an ace. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Blues Snap Skid

GETTING UNDER the ball is PM senior right side hitter Grayson Shields while teammate Shana Carter watches. Shields had nine assists and two aces. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Blues Snap Skid

PM JUNIOR libero Jaden Clark collects a dig. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

Blues Snap Skid

PM SENIOR outside hitter Chloe Persinger leaps to strike a ball at the net during the Blues’ 3-0 home win over Eastern Montgomery on Thursday. Persinger led all players with 16 kills and seven aces. (Ronnie Coffey photo)

PM Netters ‘Finally Put It All Together’

The Parry McCluer High School volleyball team celebrated Senior Night with its best performance of the season, downing Pioneer District foe Eastern Montgomery 3-0 in Buena Vista on Thursday.

Chloe Persinger totaled game-highs of 16 kills and seven aces as the Fighting Blues snapped a 9-match losing streak with a 25-23, 25-19, 25-15 victory. Kennedi Burton notched two blocks, two kills and three assists for PM (3-17 overall, 3-9 district), while Grayson Shields finished with nine assists and two aces.

Morgan Bahnken posted nine kills and two aces to pace EM (6-14, 5-7). Idara Rakes added seven kills and a pair of aces for the Mustangs, while Elli Underwood tallied six kills and Abagail Raines recorded 19 assists and two aces.

“As I’ve been telling you all year, we needed to find that ‘click’ – who works well with each other,” PM head coach Shannon Stiltner said. “Tonight, we finally got it. … They finally put it all together and made it work tonight.”

Prior to the match, the Blues honored their four seniors: Persinger, Shields, Shana Carter and Kayleigh Jennings. Carter served up two aces in the contest, including one on the match-clinching point in the third set.

Stiltner praised her senior quartet for their character and leadership during what’s been a tough season on the court.

“This year has not been what we expected,” the PM coach said. “That’s the whole reason we won tonight, was those four seniors. They kept us going; they kept the girls going, telling them, ‘Don’t put your heads down. We’ll get there sooner or later.’”

The Blues put their stamp on Thursday’s match early by gritting out a hard-fought first set. After the Mustangs took a 12-11 lead on a Bahnken kill, PM reeled off four straight points to go in front 15-12.

EM responded with a 5-0 run, edging ahead 17-15. But Persinger took over down the stretch, recording five kills in the second half of the frame as the Blues claimed a 25-23 victory.

Persinger, a first team All-Pioneer District selection during her junior season in 2018, has struggled to regain her form after suffering a midseason ankle injury this fall. But the six-rotation outside hitter was a true difference maker against the Mustangs.

“Tonight’s the first night I’ve actually seen her be her old self, and I think she’s back 100 percent,” Stiltner said of Persinger. “She was ready for tonight; she wanted this one.”

The first-set win seemed to put PM in command, as the Blues controlled play for most of the second and third stanzas. A key service run from Persinger in the second gave the Blues a 12-5 advantage, and EM would not come any closer than four points the rest of the way.

PM jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead in the third set. The Mustangs pulled to within 12-10 midway through, but the Blues took over from there. Persinger notched six more kills during a closing 13-5 stretch, and the match ended on Carter’s second ace of the night.

Sydney Taylor added two kills and two assists for PM, while Jordan Dawson chipped in two kills, one assist and one ace. Maddie Smith totaled two kills, three assists and two aces for EM.

The Blues hope that their strongest outing of the year will carry over into this week’s district tournament. PM, the sixth seed, was slated to visit third-seeded Narrows in the quarterfinal round on Monday, with the semifinals set for last night and the Pioneer District championship slated for Thursday. For tournament updates, visit www.thenews-gazette.com.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Stiltner said. “Tonight, we finished the regular season on a high note. … This is our starting point here. This is a whole new season now.”

Narrows 3, PM 0

Narrows secured a 3-0 home victory over PM on Monday of last week.

Emma Spencer and Halee Kast recorded 11 kills apiece to lead the Green Wave to a 25-16, 25-13, 27-25 win. Cristin Baker totaled 33 assists and nine digs for Narrows, while Spencer also served up six aces.

Persinger paced the Blues with 11 kills, two blocks and three aces. Dawson tallied five kills, three blocks and an ace, and Burton notched three kills, three blocks and one ace.

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