For three sets Tuesday night, Beloit Memorial looked like an improving team ready to knock off one of the top three squads in the Big Eight Conference.
And Janesville Parker looked like the team with both the No. 2 seed in the sectional and third place in the conference locked up and little left to play for.
Then the Vikings decided they weren’t going to wrap up the regular season on that kind of note.
Parker woke up after three tight sets, blitzing Beloit from all angles to rally for a 25-21, 24-26, 23-25, 25-9, 15-9 victory that left the Vikings with a 7-2 record in the Big Eight and dropped the Purple Knights to 3-6.
“We were just off our groove. We weren’t talking and didn’t have a lot of energy,” said Parker senior Tina Shelton, who led the Vikings with 16 kills. “We weren’t focused.
“But I think we all just got together and said, ‘We need to focus on tonight.’ This is going to make us better, overcoming whatever happened in the first two sets and taking it back. That should give us so much momentum.”
Indeed, while the Vikings seemed to go through the motions in the first three sets, Beloit—spearheaded by junior standout outside hitter Rebekkah De Kok—brought a great deal of energy.
De Kok finished with a whopping 27 kills, doing most of her damage as the Knights built their lead. After trailing the entire close first set, they were down 23-19 in the second but rallied for the 26-24 victory. De Kok had four kills during that comeback stretch alone.
Beloit got out to a 3-0 lead and never trailed in the third, though Parker rallied from down 22-19 to get within one at 24-23, when De Kok put the game away with another blast.
“It’s the same story every match ... we’re right there at the top of the conference with our level of play, but we’re just not able to finish,” Beloit coach Kim Gamble said. “I don’t know what’s causing it, but we’re right there and are just hesitating.
“And we looked gassed in the fourth, and that’s something we’re working on in practice.”
The Vikings pounced immediately in the fourth set. They led 5-1 to force a quick timeout and then saw the lead balloon to 16-3. Shelton had four kills during that stretch, and sophomore Jayda Schober had three of her nine to also help lead the charge.
“We definitely had to wake up,” said senior Rachel Van Beek, who added 13 kills for Parker. “I think we went in expecting to win instead of playing to win.
“We realized we needed to work together as a team.”
The momentum carried into the decisive fifth set, where the Vikings grabbed a 6-2 lead behind two kills from Shelton, a smash by Van Beek through Beloit’s block, an ace from Carlie Curtis and a touch shot from Schober.
It was 11-5 when sophomore Kylee Skrzypchak delivered a massive block and followed with a kill through the Knights’ block to all but put the match away. Skrzypchak hit .900 on the night with nine kills and two blocks.
“Those were definitely impact plays,” Van Beek said. “I think our whole team has been waiting for a night like that, where Tina and Kylee just go out and swing as our inside players, and they did that.”
Senior Shay Riley dished out 59 assists, while Curtis led the way with 16 digs for the Vikings.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Beloit. They were incredible tonight—hit the ball well, passed the ball well, did everything well,” Parker coach Andy Kimball said. “We just had to weather the storm.”
With some seeding meetings around the state still taking place, the WIAA has yet to release playoff brackets. Kimball said his team is the No. 2 seed in the Elkhorn Sectional behind top-seeded Burlington.
The Big Eight Conference tournament is Saturday at Parker.
PARKER 3, BELOIT 2
Beloit Memorial 21 26 25 9 9
Janesville Parker 25 24 23 25 15
Parker statistics: (aces-kills-blocks-assists-digs) Carlie Curtis 3-0-0-1-16, Emma Perry 0-0-0-0-0, Jayda Schober 0-14-0-0-1, Jenna Gackstatter 2-5-1-0-2, Kylee Skrzypchak 0-9-2-0-0, Lexi Walters 0-1-0-0-3, Rachel Van Beek 3-13-0-0-5, Shay Rilery 3—2-2-59-5, Tina Shelton 0-16-2-0-10.
Beloit leaders: Kills—Rebekkah De Kok 27. Blocks—Jackie Pabst 3. Aces—Kylee Arn and Brynn Swanson, 3 each. Assists—Meghan Drucker 37. Digs—Arn 28.