Panthers lose five-set heartbreaker

Union file photo

Lexi Magnani sets the ball for a teammate early in Mt. Pleasant’s five-set loss to Keokuk on Tuesday night.
Union file photo Lexi Magnani sets the ball for a teammate early in Mt. Pleasant’s five-set loss to Keokuk on Tuesday night.

MT. PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant volleyball team could be 2-0 in the Southeast Conference this year, but instead they are 0-2. The Panthers lost their second-straight gutwrencher on Tuesday night, dropping a match to Keokuk 21-25, 25-16, 12-25, 25-22, 16-14. This comes less than a week after a five-set loss at Washington in their SEC opener.

Mt. Pleasant took the opener 25-21, utilizing five kills and two aces from Maggie Cristoforo and three late kills by Karsyn Lamm to pull away late. Keokuk bounced right back in the second set, scoring the first six points of the game at winning it 25-16.

The Panthers dominated the third set. They scored the first four points and nine of the first 12, and neve rlooked back. An Elli Liechty kill finished the Chiefs off 25-12 and the Panthers were one set away.

Mt. Pleasant was up big in the fourth set. They jumped out to a 14-7 lead early, but the Chiefs clawed back to eventually tie it 22-22 and then score the next three to force a fifth set.

“We should have never went to that last set,” said Mt. Pleasant head coach David Streeter. “We’ll have to go back to the drawing board a little bit on one of the rotations and kind of see where we go from there, because that’s happened twice to us now in two conference games. We’ve got to figure something out.”

The fifth set was the most exciting one of the night. The biggest lead of the entire game was just two points. Mt. Pleasant climbed back from down 14-12 to win the next two points and tie the game at 14-14, but Keokuk closed it out with two of their own, ending it with a kill.

Avery Sutter played consistently well, leading the team with 12 kills and seven blocks. Lamm finished with 11 kills. Cristoforo had nine kills, and Lexi Magnani had four blocks.

Ralyn Seberg had 20 assists, and Caroline Richtman had 13. Apryl Simon led the team with 15 digs, and Reece Barton finished with 13.

Mt. Pleasant is now 1-9 overall and 0-2 in conference play. They’ll have a week to prepare for their last conference road game of the year, at Ft. Madison. That becomes a must win in an SEC race that looks tight as ever.

“From what I can see, everybody is even,” Coach Streeter said. “Washington just beat Fairfield, so right there it shows you how even the conference is.”