JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — The Sweet 16 is nice, but the Stew-Stras Comet volleyball team (25-12) played their way into the Elite 8, by handling Arthur (27-4) in two decisive games and claiming the Arcola 1A Sectional Championship, 25-18, 25-19.
"This is an exciting season," said Comet coach Ronda Schlechte. "I am so glad the girls are able to experience this. It will be a wonderful memory for them."
A wonderful memory was how the Comets handled Arthur. The Comets had Arthur's number from the jump. With only two service aces, the Comets earned their win by their court play.
They swung for 29 kills on 28 assists in a 2-game set. The Comets also did the job on defense to stymie the Arthur attack. They recorded 36 digs and three blocks en route to the win.
"Arthur-Lovington is a very scrappy team, so we really had to be ready," said Comet coach Ronda Schlechte. "Passing wasn't as consistent as it could have been, but we still played well."
Arthur only managed to scrap for 12 kills and two blocks. They dished just 11 assists, while digging 27 balls on defense to try to fend off the Comet attack.
Karly Goodman led with just five kills. Sherelle Coller dished all 11 assists. Emily Seegmiller led the defense with eight digs.
Meanwhile, a 3-pronged Comet attack hurt Arthur. Kendall Knop swung for 10 kills, Brittani Tabbert for nine kills, and Becca Schlechte for seven.
Baylee Quast dished a team-high 13 assists, while Schlechte was right behind her with 12.
Defense was impressive. Knop led with 9 digs, Sarah Locke dug eight balls and Quast and Schlechte recorded seven digs, each.
"The goal was to get Lindsay (Burton) some court time and we were able to do that," Coach Schlechte said. "Thanks to the fans tonight. It was awesome having them there to cheer for the girls."
Stew-Stras (26-12) advances to the Nokomis 1A Super-Sectional on Saturday to play Liberty.
Liberty hasn't won a sectional since 1996, so they may be catching lightning in a bottle this season. All through regional and sectional, Liberty won every match in two games. They won the sectional title by beating Hardin (Calhoun), 25-10, 26-24.
Arcola 1A Sectional Championship
Stew-Stras def. Arthur-Lovington, 25-18, 25-19
Stew stats: Becca Schlechte 7 kills, 12 assists, 7 digs; Baylee Quast 1 kill, 13 assists, 7 digs, 1 block; Kendall Knop 1 ace, 10 kills, 9 digs; Brittani Tabbert 1 ace, 9 kills, 3 assists, 5 digs, 1 block; Morgan Stremming 1 block; Sarah Locke 1 kill, 8 digs; Clara Kaufman 1 kill.
Arthur stats: Karly Goodman 5 kill, 6 digs; Sherelle Coller 5 digs, 11 assists; Hannah Schrock 1 kill, 1 block, 3 digs; Emily Seegmiller 1 ace, 2 kills, 1 block, 8 digs; Brooke Tabb 2 kills, 5 digs; Jessica Davis 2 kills, 1 block, 4 digs; Logan Kaufman 1 dig.