48°FFairFull Forecast

Fulton dominates Abingdon-Avon to win sectional title

Published: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 12:07 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 1:56 p.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Jamie Huennekens (left) and Ann Renkes jump for joy after beating Abingdon-Avon 25-19, 25-13 on Thursday in the championship match of the 2A Farmington Sectional. Fulton will play Fieldcrest on Saturday at the 2A Bureau Valley Supersectional.

FARMINGTON – Fulton played a super sectional to reach the supersectional.

The Steamers "served" notice that they're a force to be reckoned with, dominating Abingdon-Avon in a 25-19, 25-13 win Thursday in the Farmington Sectional championship.

"We struggled a little bit at practice [Wednesday], and I always say, 'The way you practice is the way you're going to perform,'" Fulton coach Stacy Germann said. "So, I was a little nervous. Lately we're been playing solid. We kind of dipped down a little bit a few times, but they pulled it together again."

Fulton (15-17) piled up 12 aces, nine in the second set alone. The Steamers, who began the postseason 11-17, advance to Saturday's Bureau Valley Supersectional to meet Fieldcrest at 7 p.m. Fieldcrest beat Watseka 25-18, 25-21 to win the El Paso-Gridley Sectional.

Fulton could not have started better, jumping in front 8-1, with sophomore Betsy Leonard putting down four kills and a block in the burst. Leonard finished with match-highs of seven kills and four blocks.

"This feels amazing," Leonard said. "It's the farthest we've went in a long time in the state tournament. Coming out with a big lead gets you pumped. They got close, but we're good under pressure. We aren't scared of any pressure."

Fulton's last sectional title came in 2003. That team went 33-2-1 and lost to Eastland in the Elite Eight.

A short time later, the Steamers extended to a 14-4 advantage, thanks to a pair of kills by Chelsea Lesniewski and another from Rachael Beiermann.

"We were kicking their butts at the beginning. That was awesome," said Lesniewski, who had a team-high five aces to go with 3 kills.

Leading 18-8, Fulton saw Abingdon-Avon (21-11) fight back, using a 10-2 tear to pull within 20-18.

With the score 21-19, kills by Lesniewski and Beiermann propelled the Steamers to a 4-0 set-ending flurry.

The Tornadoes took their first lead of the night at 2-1 to start Set 2 before Fulton worked ahead 9-5.

Leonard supplied an ace, a block and a kill during that stretch, which also included kills by Jamie Huennekens and Camerin Huizenga, and an ace from Ann Renkes.

Abingdon-Avon took its only other lead at 11-10, but the Steamers would have none of it, responding with a match-ending 15-2 blitz.

Three aces by Lesniewski and a kill by Beiermann made it 16-11. A Leonard block proceeded three straight aces by Renkes to make it 21-12.

Blocks by Huennekens and Leonard, and an ace from Beiermann got Fulton to match point, which was won on a Tornado error.

"I do a jump serve, and when it works its pretty on," Lesniewski said.

Star of the match: Betsy Leonard, Fulton, 7 kills, 4 blocks

Key performers: Chelsea Lesniewski, Fulton, 5 aces, 3 kills; Ann Renkes, Fulton, 4 aces; Rachael Beiermann, Fulton, 3 kills, 2 aces

Up next: Bureau Valley Super-Sectional, Fulton vs. Fieldcrest, 7 p.m. Saturday

National video

Reader Poll

In the wake of heightened scrutiny of police departments in Baltimore, New York, and Ferguson over treatment of minorities, how do you rate the performance of your local police department?