It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Morris Lady Redskins volleyball team, and the struggles continued on Thursday night when Morris took on the La Salle-Peru Lady Cavaliers in a Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover matchup. After taking the first game by a score of 25-19, Morris dropped its next two games 25-16 and 25-23 and took another disheartening loss at home.
Morris showed no signs of typical Corn Festival-distress in the early going as they jumped out to a smothering lead in the first game. Senior outside hitter Marcela Toups gave the Redskins an early boost with a block and a kill that gave Morris a 6-2 lead. Toups would finish her night with four kills, three aces, and 10 digs.
Coming out of a La Salle-Peru timeout, Morris went right back to work as junior middle blocker Taylor Vandenberg crushed a kill that gave Morris a 12-5 lead. It was one of six kills for Vandenberg on the night.
Eventually Morris would extend its lead all the way to 20-8 on a Laney Torkelson kill. However, La Salle-Peru would make a late charge, cutting the lead to 24-19 before a Katie Chatten touch pass found empty space on the Cavalier’s side of the net to give Morris a 25-19 victory.
It was a move that worked particularly well for the senior setter all night, as Chatten finished the match with 29 assists and five kills.
“We’ve been working on that really hard in practice lately,” Chatten said. “I’ve been working a lot with ‘Cela (Marcela Toups), and she played really well tonight and because of that, the backset was just working.”
In Game Two, Morris was able to jump out to another lead in the early going. An ace by Toups and a block by Vandenberg highlighted a Morris run that gave the Redskins an 11-7 lead.
Unfortunately for Morris, a familiar problem gave Morris issues that would ultimately cost them the second game. Morris had four service errors in a 25-16 Game Two loss, and ten on the night. It was a costly statistic for the Redskins.
“Not good,” Morris head coach Jackie Litwiller said bluntly. “That’s huge. 10 service errors is just huge for us, and that’s not acceptable. We’ll get back at that in practice, and we’ll move forward.”
In Game Three, both Morris and La Salle-Peru struggled to separate themselves from one another. The Cavaliers jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead, but Morris came storming back to grab a 6-4 lead of its own on a kill by senior outside hitter Kendall Korte. Korte would go on to another big night for the Redskins, finishing with nine kills to go along with 19 digs for Morris.
La Salle-Peru would eventually jump back into the lead and a Korte service error gave the Cavaliers a 10-12 lead. However, Korte would respond with a pair of kills as Morris put a run together that gave them an 18-16 lead and forced an L-P timeout.
Unfortunately, that Morris lead would dissipate and La Salle-Peru would eventually retake the lead. This time it was one they wouldn’t relinquish. Kills by Torkelson and Korte would pull the Redskins to within a point late in the match, but La Salle-Peru would go on to win the game 25-23 and the match two to one.
“We’re seeing good things,” Litwiller said when asked about what sort of positives she could take away from Thursday’s loss. “We’ve had some kids step into a role that maybe they didn’t expect to be in. The communication has been there, too. We just have to keep fighting.”