By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON, Ill. — JoLynn Frederick and Jaime Kammerer don’t mind the anxiety that comes with a three-game volleyball match full of back-and-forth action. The closer the better for the two Unity Christian seniors.
They got their wishes Monday evening as the Knights improved to 6-1 with a 24-26, 28-26, 25-22 victory against visiting Quad Cities Christian.
“These are my favorite games,” said Frederick, who led the Knights with five kills.
“Especially that second game when it goes past 25,” Kammerer chimed in.
The two seniors played key roles in the victory that improved Unity to 4-0 in the Northern Illinois Christian Conference.
“I was very impressed with those two,” Unity coach Tabitha Fullan said. “With those two it’s mental leadership. They make very few mistakes, but the way they encourage the team, lifting the team up, they get the team to keep pushing.”
The Knights were forced to push themselves after squandering a 23-19 lead and dropping the opener.
“The first game definitely gave us drive for the rest of the way,” Kammerer said.
The second and third games weren’t much different than the first, except for the final outcome.
“We turned around mentally,” Fullan said.
The second game featured 15 ties and 16 lead changes. Unity never led by more than two points and grabbed one-point leads at 23, 24, 25 and 26 points, only to see the Eagles come back each time. Finally, the Knights took advantage of back-to-back hitting errors by the Eagles to finish it.
Unity made a run midway through Game 3, scoring three consecutive points after it was tied 8-8. The Knights never lost the lead, helped by two huge defensive plays by Kammerer.
She made a great save to keep a rally going as Unity went ahead 12-9, and moments later made a diving dig to keep the ball in play and help maintain the three-point edge.
“Digs are probably one of my favorite things,” Kammerer said.
Finishing the win was a chore again, however.
Unity led 21-16 after an ace by Frederick, but her next serve was deep, and QC Christian’s Christina Poston ripped off three straight aces to draw the Eagles within 21-20.
Frederick stopped the comeback with a push kill, and Natalie Hirl ended it moments later with an ace as the Eagles’ serve-receive attempt went out of bounds.
“They never — sometimes I don’t know how they do it — they never let down,” Fullan said. “I could tell they really, really wanted it.”
The desire just increased after the loss in Game 1.
The teams traded long serving runs to open the match. Quad Cities Christian’s Nicole Winters served four aces during a six-point run that put her team up 6-1, but moments later, Unity’s Jessi VanderEide responded with five aces and another service winner as the Knights ripped off 12 straight points.
Unity still led by seven at 16-9 before the Eagles started to claw back in it. They got within 20-19 on an ace by Winters, but a hitting error, an ace by VanderEide and a kill by Kammerer put the Knights just two points from victory.
The Knights couldn’t finish it, though. The Eagles ran off four points, with a kill by Theresa Granato tying the game at 23. A hitting error by Granato put Unity one point from clinching, but the Eagles came back with three straight points on a Unity service error, an ace by Shannon Pairsot and a ball-handling error on Unity that ended it.
The Knights turned things around after that, though, and they think they’re turning heads of those who thought this might be a rebuilding year for Unity, which starts two freshmen and two sophomores along with Frederick and Kammerer.
“We’re jelling; we’re definitely very improved with our team,” Frederick said.
“We’re proving people wrong,” Kammerer added.
UNITY CHRISTIAN 24-28-25, QUAD CITIES CHRISTIAN 26-26-22
Kills — QC Christian, Grace Logan 4, Nicole Winters 2, Shannon Pairsot 2, Theresa Granato 2, Christina Poston 2; Unity, JoLynn Frederick 5, Natalie Hirl 2, Jaime Kammerer 2. Assists — QC Christian, Winters 3, Helen Wiborg 3; Unity, Frederick 2, Maria Striley 2. Digs — Unity, Hirl 3, Kammerer 2, Striley 2, Katie VanderEide 2. Blocks — Unity, Jessi VanderEide 1, Kammerer 1. Ace serves — QC Christian, Winters 8, Poston 4; Unity, J. VanderEide 7, Hirl 5, Frederick 4.
Junior varsity — Unity Christian won 25-5, 25-16.
More photos online To see more photos from Monday's Unity Christian volleyball match, check out the photo gallery at Clintonherald.smugmug.com.