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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Potters made steady progress

  • The Morton volleyball team produced a midseason turnaround to achieve its first winning campaign since 2009.
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  • The Morton volleyball team produced a midseason turnaround to achieve its first winning campaign since 2009.
    Sitting at 6-10 Sept. 18 after a two-set loss to Metamora, the Potters went 11-5-3 over their next 19 matches.
    Morton finished 17-16-3 under first-year head coach Jen Saylor. It placed fourth in the Mid-Illini Conference with an 8-6 record.
    "I thought that our team grew throughout the entire season, which is the goal as a coach," Saylor said. "The girls worked extremely hard and I am very proud of all of their efforts."
    The Potters were tied with Pekin for fifth place after the first round of league play, but went 5-2 in the second half by reversing earlier losses to Dunlap and Washington.
    Only conference champion Metamora was better in that seven-match segment.
    Two matches stood out as highlights for Saylor.
    Morton dispatched Jacksonville in two sets at the Crimsons' Sept. 8 invitational.
    "They are now state-bound," said Saylor of Jacksonville. "It feels good that we played that well and took them completely out of their game ... As a team we hit .450, which was amazing."
    The Potters rallied from a big hole in the first set Oct. 9 vs. Washington and beat the 24-win Lady Panthers in three sets.
    "The girls played so calm and just had a confidence about them, nothing rattled them," Saylor said. "I think that was a match that we played the most as a team and really rallied around each other."
    Senior outside hitter Sarah Livingston, a four-year varsity mainstay, spent her third straight season as the Morton go-to-player.
    She finished No. 2 on the career kills list with 1,202 after compiling a team-high 376 slams this season.
    Allison McGlaughlin is first with 1,697 kills. Sisters Shannon (1,137) and Colleen (1,129) are third and fourth, respectively.
    Already first on the all-time aces list, Livingston expanded her lead with 55. She totaled 287, 111 more than Shannon McGlaughlin.
    Livingston also was credited with 307 digs and 27 blocks.
    "Sarah is a really great player and also a big leader on our team. I feel like she understood what I was teaching and was able to use that to help her teammates on the floor," Saylor said.
    Another senior, Bethany Bremer, flourished again as a defensive specialist.
    She amassed 342 digs to lead all Morton athletes.
    "She was our primary passer on serve/receive," said Saylor of Bremer. "She was our primary coverage, and our secondary setter. I put a lot of responsibility on Bethany and she really grew into that role."
    Many of the Potters' other key players have remaining eligibility.
    "We have a great base for next year," Saylor said. "Our middles did a fantastic job and improved on a daily basis. Our setter learned so much throughout the whole season and also improved each day."
    Page 2 of 2 - Junior outside hitter Casey Brunton ranked second with 113 kills and third with 167 digs.
    Kelsi Dahms, a junior middle hitter, compiled 109 kills and a team-high 38 total blocks.
    At the same position, junior Abbie Cox tallied 94 kills and 32 blocks.
    Junior setter Grace Brennan had a team-best 592 assists, along with 130 digs.
    Kayla Dierker, another junior, supplied 34 aces and 134 digs, in the top three on the squad in both categories.
    Emma Owdom, Ashley Calmer and Elena Hickey also played for Morton as seniors.
    No changes are planned to the '13 schedule.
    "I am looking forward to next year and seeing the growth of all these players after being with them for a full year," said Saylor.

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