The Knoxville Panthers magical carpet ride for the 2019 season came to an abrupt halt Tuesday in the second round of Class 4A Regional Volleyball action.

Knoxville had a first round bye, but they faced a familiar opponent in the second round of the tournament at home.

The Carlisle Wildcats were facing the No. 12 ranked Panthers for the right to move down the tournament trail.

The two teams faced off back on August 26 to open the year. The Panthers won the August contest 2-0.

Tuesday, however saw the Carlisle Wildcats as a different breed of cat.

The Wildcats were better defensively than in the first match and their top hitters were dominant at the net, using their distinctive height advantage to good use.

Carlisle won the match 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 over the stunned Panthers.

In game one the Panthers trailed early 7-2 and struggled to get out of an early funk, trailing 15-8 midway through.

Knoxville eventually found some momentum to tie the game at 21 all on a kill shot by Tara Uitermarkt.

The Wildcats pulled out game one by outscoring the Panthers in crunch time with the game on the line four to one for the 25-22 win.

The first game set the tone for the rest of the night.

Knoxville raced to an 11-7 lead in game two following a kill shots by Katie Keitges, following an ace serve by Reilly Finarty.

An ace serve by Meredith Hoffman enabled Carlisle to catch up in game two at 18-18.

Again the Wildcats were a little strong down the stretch with the 25-20 game point coming off a kill by Molly Hoekstra. It was her 10th kill of the evening with a game left to be played.

Knoxville did everything possible to fight back in game three, leading 4-0 early and 12-6 midway through.

In the quick start the Panthers had an ace serve by Maggie Wilkins, and points off kills by Finarty Melanie Sullivan and Uitermarkt.

Carlisle caught up to the Panthers at 13-13 and momentum had swung in the Wildcats favor.

Knoxville wasn’t about to give in as they displayed some true grit and determination.

A very nice defensive effort brought the Panthers within 23-20, but time eventually ran out on Knoxville.

The Wildcats escaped with a 25-21 win to improve to 23-14 overall. Carlisle opened the year with a mark of 5-10 overall, before going on a tear at the end of the season.

Hoffman had 24 kills for Carlisle followed by Hoekstra with 14.

Aubrey Furnal had five big ace serves for the Cats.

Odds and Ends

Three Panther seniors saw time on the court as they bid farewell to the sport, Keitges, Lauren Micetich and Peyton McMurray.

KHS LeadersKills – Reilly Finarty 12; Katie Keitges 11.

Assists - Marley McKay 28.

Digs - McKay 15; Amy Sullivan 11; Keitges 9; Maggie Wilkins 8; Finarty 8.

Ace Serves - Finarty 2; Wilkins 1.

Perry Bell can be reached at sports@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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