OTTAWA - While the flu was hitting the Ottawa Marquette volleyball team hard this week, the players that took the floor Tuesday night in Bader Gymnasium didn't slow down at all as they rolled over Putnam County 25-12, 25-18 to claim the Tri-County regular season championship outright on Senior Night.

"We are so excited to get the regular season championship as well as the tournament," Marquette head coach Brooke Rick said. "(Tuesday), this was all about the seniors. We have six girls either just getting over the flu or just getting the flu so we needed the seniors to step up and they did."

One of the big pieces of the puzzle missing was hard-hitting sophomore Cordy Murphy, who was one of the Lady Crusaders home with the flu.

Despite their best efforts, the Lady Panthers were overmatched right from the start as senior Bailie Bongartz made her presence known with two big kills right out of the gates.

"There was no break tonight for us with them missing Cordy Murphy and the others," Putnam County head coach Debbie Shevokas said. "Bailie (Bongartz) is no slouch herself. Marquette just has so many weapons on their team. Marquette has no weak players on that team at all."

Taylor Hartman picked up a pair of aces and Jessica Leimbach as well as Jessica Baker picked up two points in the opening set, but the Lady Crusaders blasted Putnam County 25-12 to take the early lead.

The second game of the night, the Lady Panthers began to get their offensive rhythm going and stayed right with the Lady Crusaders.

Andrea Shevokas picked up a kill to give the Lady Panthers an early 5-2 lead, and after a miss-hit by Marquette's Bongartz, Putnam County took a 9-6 lead.

Marquette then seemed to find its second wind after the point as the Lady Cru went on a 10-0 run that knocked out Putnam County for good.

Bongartz was the big difference as she sent big kill after big kill over the net, and when the Lady Panthers got something going, Bongartz was right there in the front row, either picking up the block or altering their shots.

Leimbach was a big part of Putnam County, playing strong in game two, but the Lady Panthers' big hitter left the court late in the contest with an apparent knee injury after picking up three kills.

"(Jessica Leimbach) will be so upset if she can't go next week in regional," Shevokas said. "The trainer came over, though, and said that her knee popped back in, so we're hoping it's not as bad as it looked. They told me that she left this gym two years ago with a concussion. She just flings her body all over the court and loves to play."

Just after Leimbach left the court, Marquette finished off the contest with a 25-18 game-two victory.

The Lady Crusaders are now 18-9 overall and 8-0 in the Tri-County with Roanoke-Benson standing in their way of a perfect conference season.

For the Lady Panthers, they fall to 4-19 overall and 2-6 in conference action. Putnam County was led by Hartman with two blocks, and Allie Miller with four assists.

Marquette was led by Bongartz with 10 assists and seven kills as well as Katelyn McDonald with eight assists.

Notes: The Marquette sophomores defeated Putnam County 22-25, 25-8, 25-21 to move to 14-0 on the season.

Brad Martin can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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