SHELBYVILLE -- Piasa Southwestern forced a third and final set in the Shelbyville Class 2A Sectional semifinals with a 25-18 win in the second set. It was the just the sixth time Shelbyville had gone three sets this season.
The Rams trailed 3-1 before scoring six unanswered points and never trailed again in a 25-12 victory. Shelbyville (35-3) won 25-11, 18-25, 25-12 and advanced to the sectional championship set for 6 p.m. against Newton (30-7).
Newton was a 25-19, 21-25, 25-17 winner over Pana on Tuesday night.
It is the first time since 2010 Shelbyville has reached the sectional title game.
"It is really awesome," said Shelbyville junior Maddie Holland, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter. "I have been playing varsity since my freshman year and we had not made it this far since then. We need two more wins to go to state, but we are taking it one game at a time."
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In the third set, a tip by Piasa Southwestern, who had never won a regional until this season, gave Sam Burns the serve and a hitting error put the Birds ahead, 3-1.
A kill by Shelbyville senior Claudia Watson made it 3-2 and Kelcie Darnell served five straight points, including an ace as the Rams went ahead 7-3. The Birds stayed within four, 13-9, before Shelbyville scored five unanswered points, including four by Courtney Williams, who had two aces during the run, and Holland had one of her four blocks.
A kill by Darnell gave Holland the serve with a 20-11 lead. Ryann Ambrose put down one of 19 assists by Courtney Williams with authority.
"That was awesome (Ambrose kill)," said Holland. "It was so beautiful. I love it when Ryann does that and then she gets that smile on her face, which makes everybody else smile so big. I love it."
Holland served the final five points, which ended with another Ambrose kill.
"Piasa Southwestern was really scrappy," said Shelbyville coach Lisa Peifer. "They kept volleyballs alive that I thought were down. I thought 'Wow, this is crazy, as far as how good they are at getting arms on balls and keeping the ball alive,'
"The only good thing was they gave us enough opportunities because they were out of system so much. They gave us free ball opportunities toward the end and Ryann (Ambrose) got going and that was huge. It was a good way to end it."
Contact Monahan at email@example.com or 217-238-6854.