SOUTH STREATOR - Putnam County's Andrea Shevokas turned an otherwise disappointing evening into a spectacle to be admired Monday night against DePue.
With the Lady Panthers entrenched in a third game with the winless Lady Giants, Shevokas toed the service line with PC holding a five-point advantage in the first round of the Tri-County Conference Tournament at Streator Woodland High School in South Streator.
By the time Shevokas finished, she had basically advanced the Lady Panthers into the TCC quarterfinals, which begin tonight.
Shevokas served 15 straight points - including a string of six consecutive aces in the run - as Putnam County pulled out the third game en route to a 25-21, 13-25, 25-7 victory over DePue.
"I was actually very surprised," Shevokas said of her service streak. "I actually had some very lucky ones that scared me a little, but if felt really good."
It looked even better for the Lady Panthers (4-18).
Shevokas finished with 23 points and 12 aces in the match, and she finished with nine aces in that 15-point run in the third game that harassed the DePue serve-receive.
Backed by a match-high 12 kills from outside hitter Jessica Leimbach, Putnam County advanced to play Peoria Christian today at 7 p.m.
Peoria Christian has won the last five TCC Tournament titles, dating back to the 2003-04 season, but earlier this year, PC took the No. 2-seeded Lady Chargers to three games in a regular-season TCC loss.
"I put in my younger players. We were having severe issues with our passing," Putnam County head coach Debbie Shevokas said of beating DePue. "That's why the second game was so bad. They weren't passing the balls up, and I said, â€˜OK, I am shaking things up.' I put in the younger team and they were able to pull it up."
In the decisive game three, DePue (0-19) took a 3-2 lead on a PC setting error before PC's Alyssa Watson put down a kill in front of two Leimbach kills.
Watson then served up six straight points with a pair of aces to help build an 8-4 lead.
Putnam County out-aced the Lady Giants 23-11 in the match.
"They played well. That last game was tough. We fell apart on their serves," DePue head coach Erin Duffy said. "I have been telling them that it can all come together if we get everything going at the same time. I am proud of the girls. We have a young team."
Where Watson left off, Andrea Shevokas picked it up.
With PC leading 9-4, she served the Lady Panthers to a 24-4 advantage before a Putnam County hitting error broke the string.
After a pair of service points from DePue's Carmen Lopez, Putnam County's Leimbach ended the night with a kill.
"We weren't talking and we just fell apart, but in the third game we shined, so it was OK," Andrea Shevokas said. "We can be really good. Our season should be way better than what it has been. We just need to pull through."
The Lady Panthers pulled through with a slim game-one victory thanks to another big service run by Andrea Shevokas, who took the volleyball with the game tied at 17-17.
Six points and an ace later, to go along with kills by Leimbach, Taylor Hartman and Courtney Wink, and Putnam County had a 23-17 lead that it would not relinquish.
"Andrea was sick for a while with a really bad case of the flu, so she didn't get a lot of court time at the beginning," Debbie Shevokas said. "But she wants to play really, really bad, so she works really hard, and it shows on the court."
The Lady Panthers then jumped out to an 11-7 lead in game two thanks to a Hartman ace, but the Lady Giants rebounded.
A block by Celia Villagomez tied the game at 12-12 before Lorena Escatel served four points with two aces for a 17-12 lead.
Villagomez then tied the match at one game apiece with a seven-point, three-ace run to secure the second game for DePue.
"She's a freshman," Duffy said of Villagomez. "We're looking forward to four good years with her."
Villagomez finished with 11 points, three kills and four aces, and Escatel totaled 11 points and four aces for the Lady Giants.
DePue totaled 11 service errors in the loss.
Christine Mattern added nine assists, five points and two aces to the win for PC, while Watson finished with two kills, six points and three aces.
Notes: In other action Monday night, Midland defeated Lowpoint-Washburn 14-25, 26-24, 29-27 in a thrilling opener, and in the second match of the night, Roanoke-Benson knocked off Woodland 25-19, 25-18.
Jim Cogdal can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at email@example.com.