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Lady Bulldogs Take 4th at IHSA State Finals

A season that felt like a dream was meant to come to an end sooner or later.

No matter the ending, it was one for the record books.

The 2023 Carmi-White County Lady Bulldogs will go down as the greatest volleyball team in CWCHS history to date.

To make it all the way to the State Finals is an extremely difficult task, but to come away victorious once you make it to Redbird Arena is a whole different conversation, and Carmi-White County learned that this past weekend.

The Lady Bulldogs were matched up with Immaculate Conception Catholic out of Chicago in the 2A State Semifinals on Friday. IC Catholic was ranked as the #1 team in 2A in the IHSA’s end-of-season poll, and they showed that they were worthy of their ranking.

The Knights came out hot out of the gate – jumping out to a 9-3 lead before Chris Lucas called his first time out in an attempt to slow down their momentum, and that did not work. The Knights ended the first set on a 16-2 run and took the first set in dominant fashion 25-5.

There was no question that Carmi was dealing with nerves in the first set. A team full of juniors and sophomores with one senior battling a team full of seniority who had finished in 2nd Place in 2A just a year prior. The difference in experience was inevitable, but Carmi couldn’t just fold.

The Lady Dogs looked much more comfortable to begin the 2nd set, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Both teams swapped punches but IC Catholic gained a 9-6 lead before Chris Lucas was once again forced to call a timeout. That 9-6 lead quickly became a 13-7 lead for the Knights.

But in Lady Bulldog fashion, they kept fighting. Carmi got as close as 2 points as IC held on to a 17-15 lead and it seemed as if momentum was switching over to the maroon and white side, but it then quickly shifted back to the Knights. IC Catholic ended the 2nd set on an 8-1 run, taking the set and the match 25-16.

The loss sent the Lady Bulldogs to the 3rd Place Match, where they would face the Rock Falls Rockets.

In Saturday’s match we saw more of the Lady Bulldogs team that we’ve come to know over the last 4 months.

Carmi stormed out to a 10-4 after Caroline Simmons finally found her groove. IC Catholic held the sophomore to just 3 kills on Friday.

It had seemed that the Lady Bulldogs were going to cruise their way to a 3rd Place trophy, but then Rock Falls came out of nowhere. Carmi led 19-16, needing just 6 points to take the first set, but the Rockets then went on an 8-2 run to lead it 24-21. Down to their last gasps, the Lady Bulldogs willed their way 3 straight points to tie it up at 24. Both teams traded punches at the end of the set, but Rock Falls was able to come away with the 27-25 victory.

After letting the first set slip, it then seemed as if Rock Falls was going to run away and sweep the Lady Dogs as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead in set 2. But Carmi then answered with a mini 8-2 run to lead it 9-6. CWC’s lead grew and shrunk to as many as 5 and as little as 1 throughout set 2, but the Lady Dogs were able to finish it off this time, taking the 2nd set 25-21.

It once again felt like Carmi had captured the momentum, after letting the 1st set slip and hanging on to win the 2nd, it felt as if the Lady Bulldogs would be able to put it together and win the 3rd and decisive set.

But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

The Rockets were on fire offensively and defensively, and Carmi had no answer. Rock Falls found a way to contain Simmons, and the Lady Dogs had a hard time getting the ball over the net. Rock Falls dominated the 3rd set from start to finish and went on to take the set and the match 25-14.

Just like that, the 2023 season had come to a close.

Despite going 0-2 at the State Finals, the Lady Dogs came back home as winners.

The Lady Bulldogs had done the unthinkable. They had accomplished something that no other team in CWCHS history had been able to do, and no other team in the Black Diamond Conference had been able to do – place at the state finals.

*Edwards County finished in 4th Place, 2nd Place and 4th Place in 2012, 2013 and 2013 – but they were still a member of the Little Illini Conference at the time.*

The 2023 Lady Bulldogs are the greatest volleyball team to ever play for CWCHS.

In the past 4 months, this team has accomplished the following:

2nd Place finish at the NCOE tournament
1st Place finish at the Benton Classic
3rd Place finish at the Fairfield Invitational
The most wins in a single season in school history (33-9)
Their 2nd regional championship in the last 3 seasons
The first sectional championship in school history
The first super-sectional championship in school history
The first appearance at the state finals in school history
The first Black Diamond Conference team to place at the state finals

Congratulations to the 2023 Carmi-White County Lady Bulldogs on a remarkable season.

Chris Lucas, Jamie Burzynski, Kate Simmons

#2 – Jaya Smith
#3 – Addi Elliott
#4 – Grace Sneed
#5 – Gracelyn Johnson
#6 – Kylie Frashier
#7 – Caroline Simmons
#8 – Audrey Taylor
#9 – Addy Lamont
#10 – Callie Winter
#11 – Lillee Dodgson
#12 – Eva Attebury
#13 – Torrie Rider
#14 – Mara Serafini
#15 – Paige Jackson
#16 – Alayna Johnson
#17 – Ella Newell
#18 – Jaleigh Smithpeters
#19 – Kenley Kays
#20 – Riley Roark
#21 – Lauren Burzynski
#22 – Ashlyn Rager
#29 – Brooke Rahmoeller


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