FARMINGTON, Ill. — When Fulton found itself trailing by several points in each game Tuesday night, there was no need to worry. The Steamers had an ace in the hole.
Several, as it turned out.
Chelsea Lesniewski and Ann Renkes came through with crucial aces in clutch situations, leading Fulton to a pair of comeback wins, 25-21 and 27-25, against Orion to advance the Steamers to Thursday’s championship match of the Illinois Class 2A Farmington Sectional volleyball tournament. The Steamers (14-7-3) will face Abingdon-Avon, a 16-25, 25-19, 25-17 winner against Stark County in Tuesday’s other semifinal, at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got nothing to lose, so we’re just going to go in hard, go in loud and not give up, stay up no matter what,” Lesniewski said.
Refusing to give in certainly was the key Tuesday.
“We definitely didn’t give up,” senior setter-hitter Rachael Beiermann said. “You just stay positive. Then, I think they got down a little easier than we would. We kept our spirit up.”
Fulton changed the complexion of both games at the service line.
“I feel that getting an ace always gets us more pumped,” Lesniewski said.
“What was huge about that, that was the rotation where it was after their server who got us both games,” Fulton coach Stacy Germann said. “Every time that server came around, that’s where they gained their points. So to have Chelsea be the next person up to dig us out of that hole was huge.”
Orion led 12-8 in the opener when Renkes recorded a kill from the right side to give service to the Steamers. Lesniewski stepped to the line and served five consecutive points, including two aces. The first was a line drive that caught the top of the net and dropped down on the Orion side, pulling Fullton within 12-10. The second tied the match at 12.