Pontiac claims victory over rival Prairie Central

    There seems to be a major change in attitude for Pontiac under first-year head coach Haley Fairfield. Being calm and active were key factors Thursday night as the Indians handled Prairie Central in two sets of their Illini Prairie Conference match at PC.
    Pontiac fell behind early and rallied in the opener, and then rode that momentum through the second set for a 25-23, 25-20 victory.
    “I love watching their level of play rise as they go week to week. It was awesome,” Fairfield said. “I want these girls to not only win, but to have fun. I don’t want them coming off so intense that they aren’t having fun and not being relaxed. They’re playing well and being relaxed.”
    The Indians played in a relaxed state all night, even when they fell behind early. Elly Haberkorn was doing her part to try to irritate the Tribe, but the Prairie Central hitter wasn’t enough.
    In a six-play series, Haberkorn had two kills and two blocks as the Hawks took a 7-2 lead in the first game.
    But Pontiac remained calm and cool under the pressure and came back to pull even at 9-9. The Tribe took its first lead when Brooke Fox served an ace to make it 12-11.
    The teams traded sideouts before PTHS scored a two-point advantage. Maddie Mills delivered her first kill of the night to push the Indians’ lead to 14-12.
    Mills was probably the “X” factor in this match. Fox came in as Pontiac’s big hitter, but Mills delivered a message that she’s pretty tough to defend.
    One might sensed something big coming from Mills before the match. The junior seemed to be grooving — dancing a little, moving back and forth — as the team waited for the junior varsity match to conclude.
    When it came to hitting, Mills was in a groove as she finished with 9 kills and a block. One kill ended a Prairie Central service run and begin a six-point run with the score at 23-20. The block followed for Cassidy Ringle’s first point in the service run.
    Mills registered another kill to tie the game 23-23 that also forced a Prairie Central timeout.
    Fox delivered a kill from the back row to put PTHS up and Ringle served an ace to end the first set.
    “Maddie Mills is one of those girls who is constantly scrappy and you never where she’s going to hit,” Fairfield said. “She can hit line, she can roll shot. She can hit anywhere.
    “Brooke Fox had an amazing game, too, (but) Maddie was just one of those girls they weren’t prepared for.”
    Pontiac rode its momentum through the second set. Gabby Nagel drove home an attack that tied it at 3-3, but that was the only time the Hawks did not trail. Mills ended the match by bagging her final kill of the night.
    “Pontiac fought much harder from the moment we started to the finish,” PC head coach Allyn Krenz said. “Each point was life or death for them. We kept going through the motions and saying we still had time. They were down, came back and won by two points. They finished that game.”
    Fox finished with 10 kills for the Indians, followed by Mills with 9. Lindsay Hunt had 2 kills as the Tribe collected 23. PTHS also had 4 blocks. Ringle had 8 service points.
    Lindsey Hari had 4 kills for the Hawks. Haberkorn contributed 3 kills and 3 blocks. Prairie Central finished with 14 kills and made 5 blocks.