Spikers’ tradition continues

Bryan Veginski

Washington added to its long string of winning volleyball seasons in 2008.

The Lady Panthers were 18-17 this fall and placed fifth in the Mid-Illini Conference with a 6-8 record.

“It was definitely a good time,” WCHS head coach Chuck Heinz said. “The girls worked harder than I anticipated for me.”

About half of Washington’s losses occurred in three games, meaning the team was competitive a majority of the time.

An early-season match that stood out was the conference opener Sept. 9 at Metamora.

Before the Redbirds won their second straight league crown and advanced to the Freeport Super-sectional, they had to battle back after the Lady Panthers surprised them with a game-one victory.

“They didn’t realize how well they could play,” Heinz said of the players. “It was fun to watch them experience that.”

In the Bradley-Bourbonnais Tournament Oct. 18, Washington produced another highlight.

The Lady Panthers and Lanark Eastland went toe-to-toe in a well-played three-game match in which the Cougars ultimately prevailed.

LE won the Class 1A state tournament over the weekend.

Washington was eliminated by Metamora in the Redbirds’ 3A regional final Nov. 1, but it was a battle.

“It’s nice to go out with your best game of the season,” said Heinz of a 20-25, 19-25 Lady Panther setback.

Only a couple spurts each game prevented Washington from possibly shocking Metamora.

Senior Sarah McCoy was a first-team all-M-I honoree after leading the league with 90 blocks.

She also was second on her team with 149 kills.

Sophomore Lexie Barra was No. 2 in the conference in blocks with 67 and added 122 kills to make second-team all-M-I.

Also on the second team was junior Moriah Peterson, whose 409 digs not only set the school’s season record but the career mark as well.

Kayleigh Skaggs, a senior, paced the Lady Panthers with 177 kills, 2.4 per game.

Senior Kacy Woith was the team leader with 45 aces, while classmate Jamie Fussner provided 35.

Junior Lindsey Boyer topped Washington with 356 assists.

Fussner and senior Kelsey Doglio crossed the century mark as well.

With much of their defense back, plus the primary setter, the Lady Panthers are seeking a girl to assert herself as an attacking option.

“Obviously, we need someone to step up and be a hitting threat,” said Heinz. “We’re looking for a go-to-hitter.”

With Angela Rego (Metamora), Shannon McGlaughlin (Morton) and Claire Peterson (Dunlap), the top three conference teams all possessed a prolific hitter.

Heinz forecasts a loaded Mid-Illini next year. He said it will be tough for a team to go undefeated like has happened multiple times in recent seasons.

With a talented sophomore class coming up, Washington hopes to turn that potential into strong results on the court.

Other Lady Panther seniors departing include Ashley Ernst and Jaymi Holloman.