METAMORA — Metamora’s defense came through in a 25-19, 25-15 over Pekin, which had won 11 straight volleyball matches in straight sets.

The Redbirds were able to deflect shots early in the first set and carried great defense throughout. Metamora (15-2, 6-0) scored six of seven points in the middle of the first set to climb to a lasting 16-10 advantage.

“Our blockers did a good job,” Metamora coach Tara Ballard said. “It wasn’t necessarily that we were getting a lot of stat blocks, but we were getting a lot of touches and our defense was able to set up around them. Our defense was spectacular tonight.”

Reagan Begole, who had a team-high nine kills, and Amanda Greening took matters into their own hands in the second set. The great defense allowed the Redbirds to get into their offense with clean passing.

“They were huge,” Ballard said. “I still attribute that a lot to the passers and the defense getting the ball up and feeding them the ball. Kennedy (Mathews, who had 17 assists) did a nice job pushing the ball out so they could get those kills.”

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Pekin (13-3, 5-1) drops its first set and match since Sept. 2, when the Dragons lost in three sets to Class 4A opponents Belleville West and Quincy. Despite Hannah Thompson's 11 kills, the Dragons' timing was off. Coach Yvonne Thompson admitted to some frustration, but believes the Dragons will be better for it come the second time around.

“One of the things that we do is we come in very mentally tough,” she said. “I know they’ll learn from this game we lost and we’ll come in as a better team the next time we play them. It might not be the skills I talk about but it’s the mental aspect that I want them to be better at.”

Aaron Ferguson can be reached at 686-3207 or aferguson@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sports_Aaron.