O'FALLON — O'Fallon senior Luke Terhaar is so versatile that on the Panthers 2013 roster, he's listed as both a setter and a right side hitter.
On Tuesday, Terhaar showed off all of his talents on the volleyball court to the Belleville East Lancers.
With first place in the Southwestern Conference on the line, Terhaar had eight kills, dished out 27 assists and helped turn the decisive third game around for good with two blocks as O'Fallon rallied for a 23-25, 25-23, 25-17 win at the Panther Dome.
With the score tied at 12 in the final game, the Panthers Nolan Melesky gave his team the lead with a kill.
O'Fallon (11-2) would never trail again. With teammate Dirk Husemann serving, Terhaar went well above the net to block a kill attempt by East junior John Mathews as the lead increased to 14-12.
The Panthers would add three more points on Husemann's serve to push the lead to 17-12 and East (10-1-1) would get no closer the rest of the night.
Terhaar, who had three blocks in the final game, stopped a second kill attempt of Mathews later as O'Fallon thrilled a large turnout with the emotional win.
"They were huge blocks. Anytime you can stop a player the caliber of a John Mathews in game tight game, it gives you a lift,'' Panthers coach Katelyn Hagarty said. "One of the best parts of the win tonight was that we needed everybody to step up and they did. Everybody contributed.
"They (East) had beaten us in the title game at the Rockwood Summit Tournament and so we really wanted to come out tonight and play well. This is a big win for our volleyball program.''
Mathews led East with 11 kills, while junior Austin Cox added 10. A middle hitter, Cox had seven of his kills in the first game as East took the early advantage with the two-point win.
But after committing five early hitting errors and falling behind 8-1 in game two, East was never able to get back to top form against the fired-up Panthers.
"They (O'Fallon) have a lot of players they can go to and are tough to defend. But I think in some cases we just kind of gave up on our end. Up until tonight it's worked out for us and this time it didn't. That's something we need to work on in practice,'' East coach Stefanie Gaubatz said. "I just think that we got outworked tonight. They wanted it more then we did.''
Right side hitter Jon Hobbs also added eight kills while Nolan Melesky added six kills for O'Fallon which did a better job of playing defense in the second game.
"Their (East) outside hitters are so strong that I think maybe we focused too much on stopping them in the first game and they really hurt us in the middle,'' Hagarty said. "I thought we did a much better job in the last two games and No. 23 (Cox) didn't hurt us as often.''
O'Fallon almost let the big lead in game two get away. Building a lead of 8-1 on a seven-point service by Melesky, O'Fallon saw East tie the score at 20 when Mathews had two aces as part of a five-point run.
But a net violation and two missed kills by the Lancers gave O'Fallon a 23-20 lead a when Husemann fired home a kill, O'Fallon had evened the match with a 25-23 second game win.
The third game was close early with neither team leading by more then two points until Terhaar's first Block on Mathews ignited the Panthers.
Maybe trying to go for too much, Mathews then missed a kill and two more East hitting errors resulted in O'Fallon taking a 17-12 lead.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org