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Woodland cleans things up, bests Lady Mallards

RURAL STREATOR – Throughout the first set of Thursday's Tri-County Conference matchup with Henry-Senachwine, the Woodland Warriors just couldn't find any hitting rhythm, producing 12 unforced errors during a five-point loss.

But the Warriors quickly righted themselves, committing only nine errors the rest of the match as they rallied for a 20-25, 25-15, 25-20 victory here at the Warriors Dome in rural Streator.

Woodland (6-8, 2-1) also played some terrific defense, led by junior libero Kaitlyn Walter's whopping 27 digs while also taking advantage of the Lady Mallard's 27 unforced miscues on the night.

Walter also served up a team-best 11 points and four aces while senior Lindsay Benner added eight points and two aces. Senior Jasmine Easton chipped in with 15 digs and junior Taylee Keen pushed up a team-high seven assists to go with her five kills, matching the five hammered down by freshman Ella Sibert.

It was the resiliency of the Warriors after a tough first set that carried them to victory.

"That first set was brutal and the errors really killed us in that opening game," said WHS coach Ginger Walter. "After that, we went back to our original rotation that the girls are really comfortable with and I thought that helped. We did play off a lot of their errors and we were much more aggressive in the second and third sets. We got in a groove and our defense was outstanding so it ended up being a pretty good night for us."

Henry (4-10, 0-3) received a match-high 10 kills from junior Grace Condit and eight kills from senior Hunter Schrock. Senior Brynn Wiedman popped up a match best 22 assists as well as registering eight points and three aces while junior Kylie LeQuia served in six points and a trio of aces.

But the Mallards were their own worst enemy after the multitude of hitting mistakes.

"Woodland had an amazing defense tonight, hardly letting anything fall and of course we hit a lot of balls out of bounds again," said H-S coach Rita Self. "It's been a plague of ours so far this season and we just haven't been able to put the ball away. Tonight we did better with Grace and Hunter getting a fair amount of kills, but overall we just have to find a way to eliminate all the hitting errors. If we do that, we'll start winning some matches."

There were five lead changes in Set 1 before the Mallards finally broke a 14-14 tie with an 11-6 run to cap off the first game, the last of Woodland's 12 unforced errors coming on set point.

More of the same in Set 2 as the two clubs fought tooth-and-nail before Benner toed the service line with the score knotted at 11. There, she reeled off eight consecutive winning serves including two aces that put the Warriors ahead 19-11.

"That really sparked us and gave us the push we needed in the second game," coach Walter said. "It really threw them off and we were able to take it from there and tie up the match."

Woodland ended the second game with two consecutive right-side tip kills from Keen and an ace on game point by sophomore Audrey Jenkins, sending the match to a rubber game.

After a 1-0 Henry advantage, the Warriors took the lead and were never headed, despite a brief tie at 12-12. From that point, Woodland embarked on a 13-8 run to close out the match. Jenkins was key, producing a pair of kills and a massive stuff-block that finished the night.

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