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EL PASO — Ryleigh Warfel delivered a match-high 10 kills Thursday night, but Tri-Valley High School's senior outside hitter had no interest in taking credit for the Vikings' Class 2A regional championship win.

Warfel saw Tri-Valley's 25-18, 25-14 victory over host El Paso-Gridley for what it was ... a team effort.

"We were really getting the ball up (defensively), reading our hitters well and our setter (Lauren Gilmore) was amazing," Warfel said. "She was setting the ball straight outside. She was doing really well."

The Vikings clicked as a result after a tight opening set, boosting their record to 27-5 heading into Monday's 5:30 p.m. sectional semifinal against Fithian Oakwood at Hoopeston.

Top-seeded Tri-Valley took control of the second set with a 10-0 run that ballooned a 3-2 lead to 13-2. Iowa-bound middle hitter Hannah Clayton had two kills in the surge, which came with Warfel serving.

Third-seeded EPG (15-13) could not recover while suffering its second two-set loss to Tri-Valley this season.

"I felt like defensively we had a pretty good match," Vikings' coach Jamie Ward said. "We did a nice job of covering the tips and our passing was really good.

"Without passing you can't do much of anything else. We have some offensive weapons, but if you can't pass you can't get the ball to them. Our setter (Gilmore) has done a great job this year of distributing the sets and making good choices with that."

Gilmore handed out 27 assists, while the defense was led by Regan Danko with 14 digs and Hannah Rudsinski with 13. 

Rudsinski and Clayton each had three blocks, with Warfel, Gilmore and Lauren Bakewell serving two aces apiece.

"We focused a lot this week on serving tough and making a little more offense with the serve," Ward said.

EPG led the opening set 5-4 early and hung close throughout, trailing 21-17 after a Madi Funk kill.

Tri-Valley responded with a 4-1 set-clinching run capped by a Warfel kill.

"Our girls played hard that first game and stuck with them point for point," EPG coach Penny Grusy said. "It had to be a fun game to watch. It was a fun one to coach. 

"They have too weapons coming at us. That second game they just kept attacking. They kept digging stuff up and kept us off balance the second game."

Funk, a 6-foot sophomore, led the Titans with eight kills. Cheyenne Carr had a team-high 13 assists, while the digs leaders were Lauryn Mool (12) and Morgan Ryder (11). Allie Paternoga had one block and Carr five service points.

Grusy was impressed with the play of Warfel, saying, "There were very few errors on her part."

"At times I have two small gals we pull off," Grusy said. "It's tough to go single block against what they're bringing at us. They tried. It just didn't happen tonight.

"Our seniors were really wanting it. They were doing all of the film scouting to get ready for tonight. They were ready to go. It just wasn't meant to be."

Tri-Valley will be facing an unfamiliar opponent in Oakwood, which won the Westville Regional in straight sets over Bismarck-Henning.

"I don't know anything about them, but I always focus on our side of the net," Ward said. "I feel like if we take care of the little things that we can control we're going to be OK.

"I think they (the players) are pretty focused. Hopefully we'll be able to make a little run."

Warfel is all for that. And, she said, so are her teammates.

"I know we're all super pumped," Warfel said. "The goal is to make it past sectionals so we can get to super-sectionals and then Redbird Arena."

Follow Randy Kindred on Twitter: @pg_kindred


Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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