Going into this evening’s Section V girls volleyball Class D championship match, Pavilion’s Lauren Kingsley, a 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter, knew that it was up to her to counteract Fillmore’s star player Emma Cole, a 6-foor-1 senior middle hitter.
Kingsley came through with flying colors – recording 12 kills (scoring hits) and a couple of blocks at the net – to lead the undefeated Lady Gophers to a 25-12, 25-18, 25-14 victory over the Lady Eagles before a large contingent of fans at Caledonia-Mumford High School.
She said her team understood the challenge presented by Cole, who dominated the opening match of the overall Class D playoffs on Tuesday against Alexander.
“They have a big blocker,” she said, speaking of Cole, "and we knew that we were going to have to get those (kills) around her.”
Cole had her moments, recording 12 kills at the net and four service aces, but many of her forceful returns were handled by the Lady Gophers' experienced lineup led by Kingsley, junior outside hitter Karlee Zinkievich (four kills and six aces), senior outside hitter Adeline Milligan (four kills), senior setter Shannon Campbell (18 assists), senior middle hitter Shea Amberger and junior middle hitter Paige Landers.
In the first set, Fillmore, 13-7, pulled to within 10-8 before Pavilion went on a nine-point run, sparked by Kingsley’s four kills and Zinkievich’s serving.
In the second set, Landers served six straight points, with Kingsley posting three kills and a block, to give Pavilion a 12-6 advantage. Fillmore battled back, however, behind the serving of senior Jadyn Mucher to pull within four at 20-16 but could get no closer.
In the third set, the Lady Eagles jumped out to a 10-4 lead with Cole serving, forcing Pavilion to call a timeout. After talking it over, the Lady Gophers were able to break Cole’s serve and then scored six straight points to tie things up.
From there, Kingsley and Zinkievich took over at the net to support the serves of Landers and Sara Laurie as Pavilion won going away.
The victory extends Pavilion’s record to 24-0 -- all in straight sets -- but more importantly, moves the Lady Gophers into the Far West Regionals on Saturday at Le Roy High School. Coach Rex Eighmey’s team will take on Section VI representative Chautauqua Lake, 17-0, at 4:30 p.m.
Eighmey credited Kingsley and Zinkievich for their inspired play.
“Lauren just pounded the ball. She’s a great player and when we get the ball to her, she can put it down,” he said. “And Karlee really comes through in the tough situations.”
He also gave Fillmore its due, mentioning that Cole and her teammates “did a lot of digging and made it tough for us.”
Eighmey said he expects Saturday’s match against Chautauqua Lake to be even more difficult after watching videotape of the Lady Thunderbirds.
“They’re going to be tough,” he said. “They’re very athletic. We’re going to have to be at our best to beat them, but I’m confident that our team can do that. We’re in the state tournament now and we’re definitely looking forward to it.”
When asked about being the favorite in all these matches, Eighmey called it “a good feeling.”
“It’s a little bit different. I like to play under the radar, but we are the hunted this year and we’ve been able to take care of things. It feels great.”
Fillmore Coach Lacie Fuller said she believes Pavilion, the Section V Class D1 champion, has a very good chance to keep advancing as it moves onto the state tournament.
“I think they’ll do a fabulous job. They’re very consistent and they just keep moving,” she said.
She also said she was proud of her team that “made history in Fillmore by winning the school’s first sectional (Class D3) title since 1988.”
“They worked as hard as they could. We went up against a good team, but we’re the last one standing before the states,” she added.
Junior setter Zoe Hubbard tallied 14 assists for the Lady Eagles.
Top photo: Karlee Zinkievich makes her presence felt.
Photos by Jim Burns.
Lauren Kingsley attempting a "kill" as Shea Amberger (8) looks on.
Adeline Milligan sets one up.
The young fan's sign says it all.
Shea Amberger with the block.
The Pavilion fans filled one side of the gym.
Fillmore girls attempting to get the ball past Pavilion's defense.
The Lady Gophers celebrate their 24th straight victory.
Photos by Jim Burns.
For more photos please go to https://jimburns.org/p196701385