NORMAL – With Kyleigh Block and Lauren Anderson providing their team’s last three kills, Deer Creek-Mackinaw earned their very first State Volleyball Championship Saturday. The Lady Chiefs defeated Dakota, 25-23 and 25-21, coming from behind in the second match.

As fans of both teams watched the second match at Redbird Arena, the Lady Chiefs were down by as many as four, 19-15, before muscling their way back on one kill each by Kyleigh Block and Beth Mickna, and two kills from Lauren Anderson. Block led her team’s scoring, being credited with 10 points.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw (38-1) found themselves down early, 7-2, in game two, on the strength of a pair of serving aces by Jaycee Cleaver. During game two, Dakota marched to a 13-8 lead on the strength of a kill by Rachel Buck, aided by a Lady Chiefs serving error committed by Jessey Lee.

With the second game tied 20-all, the Lady Chiefs roared back for five of the next six points, on kills by Block and Anderson to claim victory.

Game one saw a Lady Chiefs squad that trailed Dakota (37-5) early on, but earn points on numerous Dakota attack errors made by Sarah Thompson and Eden Meier. Thompson scored a total of 17 points and committed a total of 10 attack errors during the contest. The Lady Chiefs pulled in front for good in the first game, 23-21, on one of those attack errors, with a kill by Block, giving her team the first win of the match.

Cayley Meiners had a game-high 19 assists in the contest, while defensively, Jessey Lee contributed 17 digs. Dakota got three serving aces from Jaycee Cleaver

Lady Chiefs head coach Mike Bohuis said there were “no words for the feeling I am experiencing. If anything, I have to give this team as much credit as I possibly can. This championship is a complete representation of the dedication, the selflessness, the teamwork – just every aspect of a good, quality athletic team. Give complete credit to them. They deserve it. They earned it. They did everything right this season that they could have done. It’s an unexplainable feeling.”

“This is just fantastic that we got the State title for our school,” Anderson said afterward at the post-game news conference. “It’s just fantastic. We came out and played our hearts out. We left in all out (on the court). It’s just a phenomenal feeling with this group of girls. We’ve grown so close together.”

“We’ve worked for this since day one,” Meiners added. “We wanted to put ourselves here. We’re just overjoyed. We’re overwhelmed. We couldn’t ask for a better team or a better group of girls.”

“It’s just so thrilling and it’s been a blessing to be on this team,” Block added. “A blessing of a win is awesome. It showed that our hard work really does pay off.”

“I definitely feel like we didn’t play our best game today,” Dakota head coach Shannon Williams told the media assembled afterward. “We played a very talented team. (Deer Creek-Mackinaw) was ready to go. They had good hitters and they were digging a lot of our balls, and they were blocking us quite a bit as well. They’re a very talented team and it’s too bad we didn’t come out on top today.”

Port Byron Riverdale, the team Deer Creek-Mackinaw defeated Friday to advance to the championship, took two of three matches from Albion-Edwards County to take third place, with scores of 25-15, 24-26, and 25-12.

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