NORMAL – Despite a first-game stumble, Deer Creek-Mackinaw roared back to defeat Riverdale, 20-25, 25-16, and 25-9 to win their semi-final games in the Illinois High School Association State Volleyball Tournament at Redbird Arena on Friday.

The Lady Chiefs will compete for the Class 2A Championship against Dakota in a match slated to begin at approximately 1:55p.m. at Redbird Arena. Dakota won two tight semi-final games over Albion-Edwards County, 25-20 and 25-21 earlier in the afternoon Friday.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw (36-2) took an early lead in the first game, 9-4, on the serves of Lauren Anderson and Jessey Lee before Riverdale regrouped enough to go on an 11-1 run behind the serves of Becca Horres, to give the Rams a 15-9 advantage which they rode to victory.

“I’m pretty proud of how my team came out in the first game,” said Riverdale head coach Lisa Black.

“It’s typical for us to come out and lose that first set,” said Lady Chiefs head coach Mike Bolhuis. “But they responded and bounced back and fought back after that. It was exciting to see.”

In Game 2, the teams battled to a 5-5 tie before the Lady Chiefs, behind serves by Lee, Paige Hasty, and Kyleigh Block proved Bolhuis right, scoring on three separate turns serving to give their team a 12-8 advantage en route to their first win against the Rams.

Riverdale (33-5) led Game 3 initially, with quick service points by Hannah Nimrick, but Riverdale turned over the ball early leaving Lady Chiefs Cayley Meiners, Lauren Anderson, and Block to serve their way into the championship game Saturday, decimating Riverdale, 25-9, in Game 3.

Meiners led the Lady Chiefs with 27 Aces, while Block and Anderson had 13 and 12 kills, respectfully, to lead all players. Nimrick had the lone double-digit stat for Riverdale by pocketing 15 service aces.

“Things go a lot easier for us when everyone is attacking the volleyball effectively,” Bolhuis said.

Anderson was the next-to-last server in the third game for the Lady Chiefs, putting her team five points closer toward the end of the final match. There were very little nerves for her though, she said, despite that challenge.

“Once I get a couple (serves) over at first, I’m fine,” she explained. “It was just a comfortable feeling out there.”

But Riverdale head coach Black almost looked uncomfortable as she told reporters her team “wanted to come here and get to the championship, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We didn’t show up for the third game but I know my team is better than what we played.”

Hartem 7th Grade Volleyball Team Recognized: In-between the games played by the four teams on Friday, Hartsburg-Emden’s 7th grade Volleyball team took to the court at Redbird Arena and was recognized for having won their title game in Illinois Elementary School Association 2012 Class 7A.

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