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AT THE NET

IN POSITION - Fieldcrest's Maci Fandel prepares to get a set in the air Tuesday night. The Knights lost to Heart of Illinois Conference guest Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley in three sets (For the Journal/TNT Photo).

MINONK – Sooner or later, the Fieldcrest volleyball team would lose its first match.

It was not expected Tuesday evening, as the Heart of Illinois Conference hosts had a set in hand and was two points away from a sweep. However, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley rallied to take the second, force a third and went on to knock off the Knights 18-25, 25-23, 25-17.

A kill from Maci Fandel gave Fieldcrest (8-1, 2-1) a 23-22 lead in the second. The Falcons (7-5, 2-2) recorded the final three points, including back-to-back service aces from southpaw Payton Allen, to extend the match.

GCMS finished with a total of 13 aces.

Coming into the season, Knights’ coach Cathy Sanders was a bit leery with her team’s ability to pass.

“Our passing has been inconsistent for a while,” she commented. “It’s not our strength. It’s something we have to keep improving.”

Those woes lingered into the third, as Fieldcrest fell behind 3-0.

A set attack by Alyx Carls put the Knights on top at 9-8, which would be the last lead they held. The Falcons led by as many as six, including 23-17 on the 15th kill of the match from Jessica Freehill.

While Freehill did not do much tipping, a few of her teammates did.

“I knew they tipped a lot in warmups. They have some inexperienced players like we do,” Sanders said.

Allen added six kills and served 10 points, six of which aces. Mady Schutte handed out 31 assists.

Gracie Schultz (10), Carls (eight) and first-year Ashlyn May (eight) combined for 26 of the hosts’ 31 kills. Fandel contributed 29 assists, 11 digs and seven points.

Sanders pointed to a couple of areas that was the Knights’ undoing.

“We have been inconsistent for a while,” she noted. “Our blocking was not there. I do not think we hit very well. I do not think we were smart with our sets. There was a lot of chaos out there. We have to reel them back in.”

Carls also had six points to her stat line.

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