By FRED KRONER
The statistics sheet shows a 10-8 season record for Mahomet-Seymour’s volleyball team.
What the numbers don’t show is how close the Bulldogs have been to much more success.
In five of the losses, M-S has won one of the sets against their opposition.
The latest was last Thursday’s 19-25, 25-11, 25-12 setback at home to Normal University High.
“We are not giving up, we are supporting one another and the teamwork is there,” head coach Stacey Buzicky said.
Against the visiting Pioneers, there were opportunities that didn’t result in points.
“We couldn’t finish the rallies,” Buzicky said. “There were a lot of times we didn’t convert.”
After using a two-setter rotation in the first 14 matches, M-S has relied on Kayin Garner as the solo setter in the last four.
She had 16 assists against U-High.
“Her connections (with the hitters) are a little stronger,” Buzicky said. “I still feel it is open, depending on the match.”
With one setter handling the duties, it opens up additional plays for the offense.
“It helps Amber (Yeakel) to run the slide when they are together in the front row,” Buzicky said.
With a two-setter offense, there’s never a time there’s just two front-row hitters, and movements can be harder.
Savannah Matthews had 12 kills against the Pioneers. Josie Hess contributed 18 digs.
Finishing with two blocks apiece were Lauren Minick and Brooklyn Houser.
Hess is a sophomore who plays like a veteran on the court.
“She is a natural leader, very intense and likes to compete,” Buzicky said. “This is a fairly new role for her.
“Last year for the JV, she was an outside hitter.”
Hess is making a name for herself with her back-row play.
“She is an aggressive defender,” Buzicky said.
M-S returns to action Tuesday with a home match against Effingham.
Austin Carr capped his stellar week with two goals, including one in the match’s first minute, as the Bulldogs shut out Bloomington 6-0 on Saturday at Middletown Field.
Carr finished the week with five goals in two matches.
M-S is 5-2-3 overall after the non-conference victory.
Senior goalie Corey Cebulski was a part of his second shutout of the season. Freshman Keagon Ashby made his varsity debut, playing in goal for the final 20 minutes.
M-S teammates who had both a goal and an assist were Ethan Mansfield and Joah Moore.
Kadyn Jones and Carter Osman scored the team’s other goals.
“After nine hard, close games, it was great to have an opportunity to go a bit deeper into the bench,” M-S coach Jeremy Davis said. “The team played well.”
M-S is back in action on Monday at Lincoln.
The Bulldogs have placed themselves in a series of must-win games in order to guarantee themselves a postseason game this fall.
After Friday’s 36-28 loss at home to Taylorville, M-S is 1-3 overall with five regular-season games remaining.
Wins in all five games will assure the team of a playoff appearance. Wins in four of the last five games will make the Bulldogs playoff-eligible with five total season wins.
A tiebreaker between teams with five wins will then be used to determine which ones continue their seasons.
Against Taylorville, M-S had fewer yards of total offense (265) than they allowed the visitors via passing (272).
Sophomore Clay Hubble accounted for 75 of the 122 M-S rushing yards. He scored three touchdowns, one on a kickoff return, raising his team-leading season total to five TDs.
Dawson Finch, who passed for 143 yards on 9 of 16 accuracy, hooked up with Dylan Gates for a touchdown.
The other M-S points were scored on a two-point conversion run by Cole Barnhart.
Jordan Veldman was the team’s top receiver with 49 yards on three receptions.
Defensively, linebackers Daunte Roberts (14 tackles) and Hunter Berg (10 tackles) were the Bulldogs’ leaders.
Taylorville amassed 457 yards of total offense. Four of its five TDs came courtesy of the passing game.
M-S returns to action on Friday with a 7 p.m. game at Mattoon (3-1).
M-S placed 17th in the 64-school Richard Spring Invitational on Saturday at Peoria’s Detweiller Park. The Bulldogs were the first team to finish among those in the Class 2A division.
Elizabeth Sims was the top M-S finisher, placing 28th in 18 minutes 9 seconds for the 3-mile course.
Brisa McGrath was 54th in 18:38.7, followed by Madi Balbach (124th in 19:23.6), Delaney King (159th in 19:38.7) and Olivia Bunting (179th in 19:50.2).
Overall, there were 427 finishers in the varsity race.
In the freshmen-sophomore race, four M-S athletes placed between 35th and 43rd, entering the chute within 18 seconds of one another.
Grace Lietz was 35th in 20:00, followed by Klein Powell (37th in 20:08), Chloe Allen (41st in 20:12) and Emily Bednar (43rd in 20:18).
The team will compete in the East Peoria Invitational on Saturday at Illinois Central College.
Senior Mathias Powell was the third-place finisher in Saturday’s Richard Spring Invitational, which featured more than 75 teams and 525 competitors.
Powell’s 3-mile time was a career-best 14 minutes, 44.1 seconds. He was less than three seconds behind the meet champion.
“Mathias had a smart and tough race as he finished third overall in a challenging field,” M-S head coach Neal Garrison said. “Mathias’ third-place finish ties the highest we have had a Mahomet-Seymour runner ever place in this meet.
“Jordan Johnson placed third in 2000. Mathias earned the respect of the state by running a 14:44.1. His time is one of the fastest times ever run by a Mahomet-Seymour runner in the nearly 50 years of our program.”
M-S placed 35th in the team chase.
Bulldogs Bryson Keeble, Jonah Singer, Kyle Nofziger and Joseph Scheele all posted sub-17-minute times for the day.
Keeble had a 42-second improvement, but the Bulldogs’ greatest drop was by Nate Douglas (17:21), who cut 62 seconds off his previous best.
In the freshmen-sophomore race, M-S was 15th.
Singer (26th), Nofziger (28th), and Scheele (52nd) were the leaders in the underclassmen race. Their times were among the school’s top four for the day.
Overall, 14 of 16 Bulldogs who ran on Saturday had season-best times and 11 recorded career-best times.
M-S will participate in the East Peoria Invitational on Saturday at Illinois Central College.
Senior captains Lauren Henderson (No. 2) and Zoe Doehrng (No. 3) won their singles matches on Thursday in a 7-2 loss at Mattoon.
The Bulldogs are 1-3 in dual meets.
Doehring has a 3-1 record in singles. Henderson is 2-2.
M-S will play at Lincoln on Thursday.
The Bulldogs tied for sixth in the 10-team LeRoy Scramble on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ score was 1-over par.
St. Thomas More (12-under par) was the team champion.
Emma Amjad was the team leader in last Thursday’s Livingston County Invitational, at Pontiac.
She fired an 18-hole score of 106.
Other M-S scorers were: Sarah Amjad (110), Rachel Burke (112), Emma Yates (113) and Sylvia Byron (114).
M-S’ team tally was 441.
The Bulldogs play on Wednesday at Lincoln in a match that also includes Bloomington Central Catholic.