O'FALLON — O'Fallon boys volleyball coach Katelyn Hagarty hasn't had much to worry about during the 2013 season.
Led by a balanced attack, the Panthers have ruled Southern Illinois volleyball by marching to a 16-2-2 record and on top of the Southwestern Conference with a perfect 8-0 mark.
So what is Hagarty's main concern as O'Fallon sets its sights on a possible long postseason run?
"Sometimes we come out at the beginning of the match ready to go and other times we don't. We start slow some matches. We need to come out from the first point and stay focused,'' Hagarty said. "But we keep improving and that's important.''
On Friday in the opening match of the Southwestern Illinois Volleyball Invitational, the Panthers had no trouble staying focused.
Taking on an improved Althoff squad, O'Fallon jumped out to a 10-0 lead and poured it on from there as it went on for a 25-6, 25-13 win.
Senior Luke Terhaar led a balanced O'Fallon attack with seven kills while junior middle hitter John Hartkop added five for the Panthers who took advantage of a sluggish Althoff squad in game one to post the easy win.
Althoff stayed with the Panthers early in game two before the Panthers broke it open with a 10-3 run.
Nolan Melesky and Dirk Husemann added four kills each for O'Fallon, which put away the Crusaders in short order.
"We did a good job of keeping the tournament on time,'' Althoff coach Tim Gagen said. "O'Fallon is clearly the team to beat on this side (of the river). The thing about it was that they didn't have to show half of what they're capable of doing because we didn't make them do anything.
"We just weren't ready to play tonight. Why? Sometimes you just have to remember you're dealing with 16-17 year old kids. It happens sometimes.''
The tournament continues Saturday at both the Panther Dome and main gym at O'Fallon High School.
The title match is set for 12:30 p.m.
After falling behind 10-0 in game one, Althoff finally scored on a kill by Brice Miller.
It didn't matter, however, as four-point service runs by Husemann and Hartkop took O'Fallon to game point which Huesmann put away with a kill down the middle of the court.
Game two got off to a similar start as kills by Terhaar, Alex Belongy and Husemann along with a clean ace by Jon Hobbs gave O'Fallon a quick 4-0 lead.
But this time -- at least for a while --Althoff responded.
Three straight service points by the Crusaders' Max Orlet tied the game at 4. Minutes later an ace by Miller gave Althoff its only lead at 9-8.
But a four-point run by Melesky, which included both a block and a kill by Hartkop put O'Fallon back in control at 14-10.
The Crusaders would get no closer as they fell to the Panthers for the third time this season.
"We've played them (Althoff) three times this year. It's tough to beat a time three times and we've got them again in the first round of the regional,'' Hagarty said. "It's all about being focused.''