It was not quite a do-or-die volleyball match Sept. 18.

But Washington did not want to fall two games behind Limestone and Metamora in the first round of Mid-Illini Conference play.

It was not quite a do-or-die volleyball match Sept. 18.

But Washington did not want to fall two games behind Limestone and Metamora in the first round of Mid-Illini Conference play.

The Lady Panthers pulled even with the Rockets in the standings with a 25-17, 26-24 victory at Torry Gymnasium.

“It’s a battle every night,” said WCHS head coach Chuck Heinz after his team prevailed.

Limestone and Washington are two of the combatants in a league that is six deep in quality teams.

The Lady Panthers trailed 22-17 in the second set before coming all the way back to hand the Rockets their first loss in five M-I bouts.

Danielle Williams took over in the second half of the closing set.

She had five of her team-high nine kills after Washington was down 14-9.

Tied at 24, a precise two-hand shot and a then slam, both by Williams, pushed the Lady Panthers.

Williams was the co-leader with Ally Deiters with 10 assists.

Williams gets a lot of attention with her attacking and setting skills. She also ignited Washington with some desperation saves.

“She’s so athletic, her only ceiling is doubting herself,” Heinz said of Williams.

Hannah Garman had a block and two back-to-back kills late to also spark the Lady Panthers.

Garman’s role expanded this year and she has grown in the areas in which she concentrates.

“She works really hard to be efficient at those,” Heinz said. “She’s grown by leaps and bounds from last year.”

Lindsey Watson had a match-high five blocks for Washington, one of which came in a four-point spurt that sliced into Limestone’s advantage.

Courtney Spurgeon topped the home team with 12 digs, while Sam Simmons had three aces on the night.

The Rockets scored the first five points of the set, then were aided by a trio of Lady Panther service errors.

Washington never trailed in set one. MaryBeth Reeves had a kill and worked with Watson to turn back Limestone attacks to generate a 6-2 lead.

Baylie Little’s slam made it 18-11, and the Rockets got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

The Lady Panthers had a crisp performance in taking the opener.

“We’re a team where everybody’s got to contribute,” said Heinz. “That’s how we want to play — don’t make mistakes.”

A Williams kill got Washington to set point at 24-15. After a brief Limestone rally, Deiters put away the guests with an alert dink to the middle.

The Lady Panthers posted a 25-14, 25-13 sophomore win, while the Rocket freshmen emerged with a 7-25, 25-21, 15-13 win.

Metamora 25-25, WCHS 12-20
The Redbirds won the most important match between the two to date Sept. 20.

Washington (15-5, 4-2) fell into third place, two games behind Metamora in the conference standings after a two-set loss in Woodford County.

Earlier this fall, the Lady Panthers beat the Redbirds in tournament meetings at Macomb and Jacksonville.

Abigail Abbadini guided Washington with seven kills. Watson and Williams had two blocks.

Eight was the lucky number for category leaders Spurgeon (digs) and Williams (assists).

Deiters notched an ace against Metamora, which faced second-place Limestone to close out the first round of M-I play.

The Lady Panthers won the sophomore match, 25-19, 25-15, after their freshmen fended off the Redbirds in three sets, 25-17, 21-25, 15-11.