John A Logan Claims NJCAA Region 24 Title
After an impressive two days of Region 24 play, the Volunteers walked away with the NJCAA Region 24 Championship. Going into the weekend, Logan was the #1 seed in the tournament, but the outcome was far from certain. #2 seeded Vincennes had already defeated the Vols early in the season and despite losing at John A Logan they were not ready to concede anything.
Before taking on Vincennes, Logan had to deal with #4 seed Lake Land on Friday afternoon. In a very solid outing, the Vols managed to win in 3 straight sets. Game scores were 25-15, 25-9, 25-19. "It was probably one of the most dominating wins we have ever had against the Lakers, and it came at the right time," said Coach Burnside. The Vols came out aggressively in the match and never really let Lake Land in the match.
The Volunteers were led by Outside Hitter Olivia Hallet and Middle Kameryn Sillmon. Both made huge contributions offensively and defensively. Olivia had 11 kills for the offense and also 11 digs. Kameryn had 7 kills with no errors and another 7 blocks which is a dominating performance defensively at the net. Shelbey Saye finished with 16 assists and led the team with 3 aces. Also having a strong performance was Sophomore Tatum Gaines who had a very efficient hitting night and contributed 7 kills.
With the win over Lake Land, the Vols earned a chance to play Vincennes University for the Region Championship. After splitting the first two sets, the Vols were able to win the next two to win the match 25-16, 25-27, 25-19, 25-18.
"It was a high level match. Vincennes was playing well and aggressively, and we were definitely matching their intensity. Even in the stands, emotions were running high and the excitement on the court was contagious," said Coach.
"From a coaching standpoint, we had to make some adjustments to our defense. We moved blockers around and changed assignments in ways that are unusual for our team. I was very proud of the way our girls adapted on the fly to the changes, and it made a big difference in the match."
One the court, everyone made contributions, especially defensively. As a team, Logan finished with 22 blocks for the game. It is a higher total than usual and reflects the commitment to defense. The Vols also played aggressively on the floor, led by Alanis Below who had 23 digs versus and aggressive hitting Vincennes offense. Kim Hall played well with 13 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Rightside Tatum Gaines had a very efficient hitting night with 6 kills, only one error, and added 4 blocks. Middle Hitter Kameryn Sillmon had another tremendous game with 14 kills, no errors, and 4 blocks.
The NJCAA Region 24 Title is the 6th during Coach Burnside's 10 seasons at John A Logan. The Vols won 3 straight titles from 2009-2011, and just repeated with another 3 in a row from 2016-2018. "This was a very special win from my perspective. The size of our region doubled this year to 6 teams, and one of the new teams was Vincennes who always has strong athletics programs. To overcome more competition and stronger competition to win just made the accomplishment that much sweeter," said coach.