NORMAL, Ill. -- When the Quincy Notre Dame volleyball team made its comeback in the second set, it turned to a sophomore hitter to lead the way.
Just not the one you might think.
Sydney Hummert has been the Raiders' leading hitter this season with 359 kills, but she had just six kills in 27 attempts during Friday's Class 2A state semifinal game at Redbird Arena.
Instead, it was Taylor Keck who led the charge from being down 14-6.
She had two kills as part of a 7-2 run that helped QND chip away at the deficit, and she had a kill (thanks to a nice set from Hummert) to give the Raiders a 24-23 lead.
Keck led the team with seven kills in 17 attempts.
"We got a couple of hits out of this girl right here," Meyer said in the postgame press conference as he grabbed Keck by the shoulder. "She came through and pounded a few balls down that were a shocker. That's pretty impressive for a sophomore who hasn't played a lot of varsity ball."
Keeping their calm
Both Meyer and Newton coach Jill Kistner tried to remain calm as the second set of their semifinal match was tied at 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26.
"I told them I can't take a whole lot of this any more," Meyer said. "The girls showed a resolve that they were going to win. They thought they were going to win, regardless of the score. You have to be kind of impressed with these girls."
"I try to practice what I peach," Kistner said. "I keep the same temperament. I just try to be in the moment. Sometimes, at the end, when I replay it, I see plays and I think, ‘Oh, that was ihuge,' but I try to stay really calm
"We came back at 24 and 25. We didn't let those moments beat us. I think we showed we still had a lot of fight left in us."
Doing color analysis for WTAD Radio on Friday of the QND and Payson Seymour games was Todd Wemhoener, the former Quincy High School Hall of Fame basketball player.
Wemhoener, a 1990 graduate of QHS, has a daughter, Katie, who plays for Belleville Althoff, which reached the semifinals of the Class 3A tournament this weekend. The 3A and 4A games were played Friday night, so Wemhoener offered his thoughts during the morning/afternoon session.
Wemhoener also played four years of basketball at Redbird Arena for Illinois State. He now works for a mortgage company in O'Fallon, Ill., when he's not following his daughter, who also will play for the Althoff basketball team this winter.
Better seat this year
Payson Seymour coach Teresa Loos-Tedrow says she has brought the players on her team to the volleyball state tournament eight times in the past 10 years. She said Friday morning that she was able to check off one item on her bucket list -- coaching a game at Redbird Arena.
She hopes to check another item off that list on Saturday.
"This is it," Tedrow-Loos said. "It's a little surreal. We have one match left. It's the ultimate match. It's the one you want it to be."
Who needs three?
Payson Seymour has played 41 games this year, and it has been pushed to a third set just once. Hannibal pulled off the feat, losing 25-9, 25-27, 25-19 on its home floor on Sept. 5.
Adding in the two sets lost to Lincoln on Sept. 29, the Indians are 80-3 in sets this season. Falling behind 19-13 in the first set to Newark didn't faze Indians coach Teresa Loos-Tedrow.
"We fell behind to Metamora and St. Thomas More, so it's not like we haven't been there before," she said. "We know the possibility is always there. We never assume we're going to roll a team.
"I'm not over there biting my nails or screaming at the girls. It just makes for a boring story when we say we're not worried."
"I have no fear about a third set," Payson Seymour libero Melina Tedrow said. "We are prepared. The mental toughness we've been going through this season has been helping us."
Newark coach Tonya Grayson was thrilled with how her team quieted Payson Seymour middle hitter Josie Stanford, who had 391 kills this season but just four kills on 13 attempts in Saturday's Class 1A semifinal match.
Overlooked, however, was the fact that the Indians did a good job of slowing down freshman Madi Malone, who had 448 kills entering Friday's game. She had eight kills in 24 attempts, but she also had six errors.
"We just tried to know where she was at at all times," Loos-Tedrow said. "Just get your hands in front of her."
The Indians also blocked Malone three times for points in the first set -- two by Kamryn Flesner and one by Stanford.
"It's always exciting when you block a team's big girl," setter Cassie Eidson said. "It's harder on them mentally, and each block, she shuts down a little more."
Newton's Abby Frohning frustrated the QND defense throughout the Class 2A semifinal match, finishing with 15 kills on 40 attempts. She had six kills in the first part of the second set as she helped the Eagles take a 14-6 lead.
"She hits at a little different angle, and she's a really smart player," Meyer said. "She hits the ball from behind her head, and she's harder to block than a lot of kids. That makes a lot of difference.
"The way we play defense, with only two people in the back, we're going to cheat one way or the other, and sometimes you get caught. We just gamble on that. I've been told by a lot of coaches that (kind of defense) won't work, but 800 wins later, I'm telling you, it's going to work."
Meyer has career record of 810-326-1.