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VANDALIA -- Even after losing the first set, Newton coach Jill Kistner saw the attitude she was looking for.

"I thought that overall, we played really calm," Kistner said. "You could see good leadership out there tonight."

The Eagles didn't waver after a tough first set, rebounding for a 18-25, 25-22, 25-21 win against Pana in the Class 2A Vandalia Sectional semifinal.

Pana's blockers had a hard time staying in front of Mallory Bergbower, who led the game with 15 kills. Mariah Earnest and Abby Frohning each had eight to keep Newton's attack rotating.

"Bergbower was huge for us tonight, especially in the third set, but it was really spread out on the stat sheet," Kistner said. "It was hard for Pana to figure out when our setter, a senior with so much experience, moved the ball well along the net."

Grace Hartrich finished with 34 assists.

Pana spread out each facet of their game as well, and coach Greg Cothern said his team couldn't have played much better.

"It was a very hard draw in a very hard sectional," Cothern said. "Our girls played very tough tonight and played one of their best matches this season.

"This was a hard-fought match with many lead changes. It's too bad this wasn't a sectional championship, because it sure felt like one."

Newton will take on Shelbyville, which beat Carlinville 25-20, 25-19 later on in the night. It'll be a rematch from last year's sectional championship that Shelbyville won.

Clay City def. Metro-East Lutheran 25-23, 26-24

LEBANON -- Even though Clay City won both sets, coach Jamie Harvel didn't feel like the Wolves spent much time out in front.

"It was a nail-biter," Harvel said. "I'm going to chalk this one up to jitters. The girls took us on one heck of a roller coaster ride.

"I felt like we were behind more than we were ahead."

The Wolves were even across the board -- Tori Matanich and Maddie Craig each had six kills, Matanich and Macy Hance had 10 and 9 digs, respectively. 

Clay City (29-1) takes on Woodlawn for a third time on Thursday, this time for a sectional championship. Clay City won the first two matches.

Taylorville def. Mount Zion 25-16, 26-24

MOUNT ZION -- The Tornadoes' postseason magic worked its way onto the court again on Tuesday.

After a running away with the first set, Taylorville held off a charging Mount Zion team in the second. The Tornadoes are one win away from their first sectional title. 

"I felt we serve receive passed very well tonight," Taylorville coach Kim Peabody said. "Payton Tucker had a great night offensively with 8 kills and Liz Curtin was a difference maker for us. She had 5 huge blocks and 7 kills."

Mount Zion coach Jay McAtee said the Tornadoes took them completely out of their game.

"It was a struggle," he said. "We had season lows in serving percentage, hitting percentages and passing percentages. A lot of that had to do with how Taylorville played."

Mount Zion finished 34-4.

"I'm extremely proud of our team," McAtee said. "From where they were in June and July, to win 34 matches was an amazing accomplishment."

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