GOREVILLE — The high school volleyball season opened with a heart-pounding nailbiter Monday night as Sesser-Valier-Waltonville outlasted Goreville in three games 19-25, 25-22, 27-25.
Goreville held a 24-23 lead in the third game, but a huge defensive play kept the match alive for the Red Devils. After trading errant serves, the Lady Blackcats committed two errors for the final two points.
"I was very pleased with the way we fought back," said S-V-W coach Erin Janello. "We're a very young team and I think had a lot of first-game jitters."
Earlier in the third game, Goreville led 15-11 after a big kill from McKenzi Schaede and 18-14 after an ace from Madison Sopczak. But the Red Devils reeled off the next five points to tie it.
The tide of momentum truly turned late in the second game.
Goreville was up 18-15 after Hannah Murley blocked Cheyenne Pitchford at the net, but the Red Devils went on a huge 9-0 run with MacKenzie Trader serving three aces and Pitchford smashing a big kill.
"We were in a bad rotation in that spot and we need to work on that," said Goreville coach Stephanie Oldham. "And we were a little down. We went from like 110 percent effort to like 75 percent. We need to get that back up. And our serving killed us."
The Lady Blackcats went on their own four-point run with Murley serving two aces, but a final Pitchford spike went unreturned and the match went to a third game.
Goreville led most of the first game as Schaede had three of her seven kills. Schaede also had three aces, while Murley had three kills, three blocks and four aces. Sopczak finished with nine assists and four aces.
Pitchford led the Red Devils with 12 kills and two blocks, while Trader had four aces and Rachel Marlo chipped in two kills.
Oldham made her debut as Goreville's head coach and the former Marion standout — better known with the last name McSparin — was impressed by her young team's effort although felt it was overshadowed by 12 service errors.
"I can't ask for any better effort than what I got from everyone," Oldham said. "So I'm really excited. I think we're ready. We played against juniors and seniors and we're a young team. I'm starting two freshmen, a sophomore and three juniors. So we're all back next year and we're going to be tough."
Both teams return to action Thursday. Goreville travels to Galatia and S-V-W heads to Woodlawn.