Center-Stanton's Morgan Vitek is a volleyball player who is best-known for her defense.
However, the junior is also quite the offensive weapon.
Vitek recorded a team-high 17 kills in No. 1-seeded Center-Stanton's 25-13, 25-11, 25-23 victory over the Grant County Coyotes at the Shiloh Christian School gymnasium Tuesday night in the semifinal round of the Region 5 volleyball tournament. No. 2 Shiloh Christian took the late semifinal in four sets over Garrison-Max, setting up a rematch of last year's region championship match. The two teams will meet Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Center-Stanton is the defending champion.
Vitek has 543 digs this season, as well as 308 kills. She led the Wildcats with 11 kills in their 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Wilton-Wing on Monday.
"Morgan is by far our best defensive player, but she's also one of our best hitters," said Center-Stanton coach Janet Erhardt. "When she started out, she was exclusively defense, but she's developed into a very good all-around player. She hits, plays defense, and she's also been our setter from time to time. She can do it all."
Vitek picked up six of her kills late in Set 3, rallying the Wildcats from a 20-12 deficit. Three straight Vitek kills made it 20-16, and another three came during a 4-1 spurt that pulled Center-Stanton within two, 23-21. Back-to-back Grant County violations evened the score at 23-23, and the Wildcats won the set and the match after a pair of Coyote hits didn't find their way over the net.
"Morgan provided the spark that we needed in that third set," Erhardt said. "In volleyball, it's all about momentum, and you don't want to give a team like Grant County momentum."
Abby Hintz and Mykaela Jacobson added nine and seven kills, respectively, for the Wildcats, who have had a balanced attack this season.
"A lot of our girls touched the ball tonight and that's pretty much been the case all year," Erhardt said. "That's been a bonus for us. Teams can't key on one or two players. We have good hitters and we try to use them all."
"We try to find where we can be the strongest," added Vitek, who also had 19 digs in the victory. "Grant County is really good at blocking, so we knew we had to move the ball around to find the open spots. We keep teams off-balance with all of the hitters we have."
The Wildcats dominated the first two sets. In Set 1, they trailed 2-1 early but an 8-0 run sent them on the way to a 14-point victory. The set also included a 6-0 run that made it 20-9.
The second set saw the Wildcats trailing 5-4, but turning the tide with a 9-1 run.
"The girls played hard tonight. We beat a very good team," Erhardt said. "When we played (the Coyotes) earlier, they took us to five (sets). We had a difficult time with their blocking that night, but tonight we played fast and together."
Ashley Frank and Karsyn Haag were credited with 16 and 15 assists, respectively. Jacobson and Amber Frank each added 15 digs.
Taylor Roehl led the Coyotes with eight kills.
Shiloh 3, Garrison-Max 1
No. 6-seeded Garrison-Max threw a scare into No. 2 Shiloh, winning an exciting first set 27-25. However, the Skyhawks regrouped and claimed the next three 25-10, 25-23 and 25-12 to advance to Thursday's final.
The Skyhawks led 20-13 before the Troopers rallied to tie the set at 22 all. The score was tied at 23, 24 and 25 before a Grace Scheresky kill put the Troopers ahead to stay. A Shiloh hit into the net ended it.
However, it was all Shiloh from there. The Skyhawks opened up a 7-2 lead in the second set and never looked back. The set also included a pair of 5-0 runs.
"Garrison is a good, scrappy team and they certainly got off to a good start in this match, but it was good to take that second game and grab the momentum," said Lisa Wingerter, who shares Shiloh's head coaching duties with Penny Kaldor. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We knew we had to keep playing hard and maintain that momentum."
Garrison-Max nearly took it back in the third set. The Troopers led 17-12 before the Skyhawks put together a 9-4 run to pull even at 21-21. It was 22-22 and 23-23 before Jesse Ebach closed it out with back-to-back kills.
The teams were deadlocked at 5-5 in the fourth set before the Skyhawks took command with a 7-0 run.
Ebach led a balanced Shiloh attack with 19 kills. Graycin Wanzek had 14, Brittan Grubb and Liz Larson 12 apiece, and Olivia Martin 7. Josey Griess had 51 assists.
"Our hitters were outstanding tonight," Wingerter said. "We've had incredible balance this year. It's made us really hard to defend."
Kaitlyn Klein led the Troopers with 12 kills.
Center-Stanton defeated Shiloh 3-1 in the regular-season region match, but the Skyhawks topped the Wildcats in the Shiloh Christian Invitational Tournament.