The second-ranked Parkland Volleyball team clinched its 23rd consecutive Mid-West Athletic Conference Championship Saturday with a sweep of No. 16 Lincoln Land, and then added two more sweeps with wins against Lewis & Clark and John Wood. The three wins move the Cobras' overall record to 41-2 on the season.
Having won each M-WAC title since the conference's inception in 1996, the Cobras have won the conference title outright in every year except 2003. In 2003, Parkland shared the crown with John Wood. The 6-0 record against conference foes this season marks the 15th straight undefeated regular season against M-WAC opponents.
On Wednesday night, the Cobras clinched the top seed for the Region 24 tournament with a win at Illinois Central. The Cobras will host the regional semifinal on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
In the three straight-set victories on Saturday, the Cobras hit an impressive .419 on the afternoon while also posting 33 blocks combined on the three conference rivals. Individually, freshman setter Rachel Verdun tallied two double-doubles, giving her 14 on the season, outside hitter Amanda Greening knocked down 28 kills and middle blocker Dakota Harmon led the team with 13 blocks.
No. 2 Parkland 3, No. 16 Lincoln Land 0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-21) -- Box Score
In their conference-title-clinching victory beginning the day, the Cobras were dominant in both its attack game (.324 hitting percentage) and defensive efforts (14 blocks). Offensively, the Cobras hit .324 as Verdun kept the Loggers guessing with five Cobras recording five or more kills. Opposite side hitter Katelyn Riffle led the team with nine, while middle blockers Shelby Nunamker and Harmon added eight and seven, respectively.
In addition to her seven kills, Harmon also led Parkland's block with seven stuffs, while Nunamker and Riffle each added in five more. Freshman libero Brooke Norder held down the back line with 22 digs, while Maggie Sorensen (12), Ryleigh Warfel (14), and Verdun (10) also reached double figures.
No. 2 Parkland 3, Lewis & Clark 0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-16) -- Box Score
Parkland again overmatched its second opponent of the day, winning by at least nine points in all three sets against Lewis & Clark. After a seven-kill and serve-block performance in the morning victory, Harmon was again featured in the win over the Trailblazers with 10 errorless kills, tied with Gabby Wessels for the team lead, and six blocks to lead the team. Verdun recorded her second double-double of the day with 40 assists and 11 digs to go along with five kills.
No. 2 Parkland 3, John Wood 0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-8) -- Box Score
The Cobras wasted no time dispatching John Wood in their final match of the day, outscoring the Blazers by a total of 75-40. Orchestrated by setter Ashley King's 36 assists, the Cobras hit .515 in the match. Greening led the efficient attack with 22 swings, converting 17 of the attempts for a kill on a .727 hitting percentage. The 17 kills set a new season high for the freshman. On the opposite side, Abby Burnett added in eight kills, while Nunamker and Sidney Heck each recorded six kills.
Holding its opponent to single digits in two of the three sets, the Cobras defense recorded 11 team blocks, highlighted by middle blocker Hannah Benson's seven stuffs and 17 digs by Ellie Stone.
Up next, Parkland Volleyball will wrap up the away portion of its regular season schedule next weekend, Oct. 19–20, back in Springfield at the Lincoln Land Tournament. The Cobras will face Waubonsee (Ill.) and Kansas City (Kan.) on Friday before battling Neosho County (Kan.) and No. 8 Grand Rapids (Mich.) on Saturday.
[Article by Chad Beyler]