DMS brings home Second Place at Class L State Volleyball Tournament

The Lady Warriors defeated Massac County and Waterloo on their way to earning Second Place at Saturday's SIJHSAA Class L State Volleyball Finals. (Doug Daniels Photo)

By Doug Daniels

1351sports.com / duquoinsports.com

March 25, 2018

  (Pinckneyville, Ill.) - The Lady Warriors battled their way into the championship match at Saturday's SIJHSAA Class L State Volleyball Finals, but dropped a close one to the defending State champ, Murphysboro, 25-22, 25-23 and returned to Du Quoin with a Second Place trophy.
  DMS had the lead during the second set, but couldn't hang on to it. Three consecutive lift calls didn't help their cause as Murphysboro, which narrowly escaped their first two matches, both of which went to three sets, held on for their second straight Class L title. They've played in the championship match every year dating back to 2014.
  "I'll give (Murphysboro coach) Mike Layne a lot of credit, he's a good coach," said Du Quoin head coach Isaac Miller. "They were able to survive two very tough matches in three (sets). In the back of my mind, my wife even said 'what if we meet up with Murphy?' To be honest, all I was worried about was Massac (County), getting past my brother (Massac County coach Zach Miller), he's a great coach as well. You know when you go up against Zach Miller, when you go up against Mike Layne, you know its going to be a battle, you know it's going to be a war. And I hope they know the same thing when they go up against me."
  Massac County was the Lady Warriors' opening round opponent, and DMS came away with a 25-18, 25-23 victory behind 8 kills from Ayanna Dunklin, Lauren Heape added 5 kills. A. Dunklin, Heape and Lexi Cobin each had 5 digs.
  "You don't win that first round, you go home empty-handed," I. Miller said. "I feel for my brother. Getting past that, the rest is kind of gravy. We were shooting for a state title, we gave it our best effort, I'm just proud of them."

  In the semifinals, DMS dismissed Waterloo in straight sets, 25-19, 25-21. A. Dunklin had a team-high 4 kills and 7 digs. Cobin added 6 digs, Heape and Sophie Miller each had 5.
  Du Quoin had fought even with Murphy to 13-13 in the opening set before the Devils began to take control on their way to a 25-22 win. The Lady Warriors were the first to move out in front in the second set, leading at one point 8-2 before Murphysboro started chipping away, taking four straight points late in the match at a key moment to establish a lead they were able to hang on to.
  "We came out and got a little momentum, we just couldn't get the separation," said I. Miller. "I wasn't crazy about the three lift calls in a row, but what can you do. You've just got to keep playing. The timing for those calls was kind of tough. At 20-20, I wish they would have just let us play. There's nothing I can do about that, we just focus on what we control."
  "It's a game of mistakes, you get to make 25 of them. I told the girls there at the end, you leave it all on the floor and I'm going to be happy at the end of the day, and I thought we did."
  A. Dunklin led the way in kills with 11 and shared the team lead in digs with Cobin (6). S. Miller and Heape both had 5 digs.
  For the tournament, A. Dunklin finished with 23 kills and Loveleen Dunklin had 12. Heape, Cobin and A. Dunklin each finished with 14 digs. S. Miller led the Lady Warriors in assists on the day with 25, and in service aces with 9. L. Dunklin had a team-high 6 blocks.
  Addi Darnell, Olivia James, Stella Ingram, Brenna Provart, Avrey McClanahan and Maddie Decker also saw action in the State Finals Tournament for DMS. The Du Quoin roster also includes Emily Smith, Faith Ford, Abbi Mocaby and Lilly Nevill.
"We definitely look forward to (the eighth graders) coming to high school next year," I. Miller said. "Ayanna, you've got Lauren Heape. Lauren Heape can bring some thunder, that girl can hit. We had a hard time getting her the ball as much as I would have liked. Loveleen is coming back in eighth grade next year, so we're excited about that. Addi Darnell, the left-handed front, she made a lot of plays today. My daughter (Sophie Miller), our setter. Tough players, I'm nothing but proud of them."
  The Lady Warriors finished their season with an overall record of 27-6.

Video highlights of the championship match between Du Quoin and Murphysboro at the Class L State Volleyball Finals. (Doug Daniels Photo)

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(Photos by Doug Daniels / DuQuoinSports.com)

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