O’Fallon Panthers volleyball team is off to a 12-2 start to its 2017 campaign after winning the Lincoln Tournament over the weekend.
OTHS defeated Limestone (Bartonville, Ill.) in the championship game to win the tournament for the third year in a row.
“They have a player going to Butler, so we had good game plan going into that game. Elise Smith played extremely well. She sees the court and can swing anywhere. Kenzee Simmers and Lauren LePere did a great job at the net as well,” said OTHS head coach Melissa Massey.
To get to the championship match, OTHS advanced out of pool play from a field that included Quincy Notre Dame, Peoria Notre Dame, and East Peoria in pool play. The Panthers then bested a very tough Mackinaw-Deer Creek in the semifinals.
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“We are doing a great job so far. This team does an incredible job of adjusting to situations. It’s fun to coach them,” said Massey.
Triad and Mater Dei
Heading into the Lincoln Tournament, O’Fallon rolled to victories over the Knights of both Triad and Mater Dei on back-to-back nights.
Coming off an emotional win against Mater Dei on Tuesday of last week, the Panthers won another match the next night against Triad in two sets, 25-10 and 25-8.
Up front against Triad, Smith, Simmers and LePere had strong, precise hits. LePere had seven kills. Smith and Simmers each had six. Abby Braswell had 19 assists.
“Simmers is a strong hitter and can place the ball up front,” Massey said. “LePere dominates the back row as an outside hitter.”
O’Fallon outlasted the Mater Dei Knights after a back and forth three sets on Sept. 5. The Panthers took set one by a score of 25-21 and the Knights answered back by taking set two by a score of 25-21 as well. Both teams went back and forth in set three until O’Fallon came out on top 25-20.
Braswell had 21 assists, and Madeline James had 12.
LePere had 12 kills to go along with eight a piece from Smith and Simmers.
Waterloo & Villa Duchesne
OTHS also started its season hot, scoring two wins away from home to open the season.
On Aug. 24, OTHS went on the road to Waterloo and defeated the Bulldogs in straight sets, 28-26 and 25-14. Smith led the Panthers in kills with 11. Simmers had seven kills, followed by LePere with four and Katherine Toftemark with two. Abby Braswell had 22 assists.
On Aug. 31, O’Fallon traveled to Villa Duchesne to score an impressive win in straight sets, 25-22 and 26-24. Smith again led the Panthers in kills with 11, followed by LePere with 10. Katherine Toftemark added five kills, Simmers had four, and Taylor Stines, two. Braswell dished out 17 assists, and James had 10.
“One of the things that makes our team good is the way we utilize every player on our team,” Massey said. “We move the ball around as much as we can. When we are in system, our team is very tough.”
Sandwiched between the Panthers’ back-to-back victories to start the season and their two last week was the Tiger Classic tournament at Edwardsville High School. O’Fallon went 3-2 in tournament play with wins over Carlinville, Freeburg and Farmington. The Panthers fell to Francis Howell and Bloomington in tournament play.
OTHS defeated Freeburg in straight sets, 25-21 and 25-23, on Sept. 1, then pounced on Carlinville, 25-17 and 25-13, later that evening.
Against Freeburg, Smith and LePere each had 10 kills, while James provided 13 assists and Braswell had 12.
In the Carlinville match, seven Panthers recorded kills. Leading the way was Smith, who had seven. Braswell led the team with 11 assists.
The next day, O’Fallon went 1-2, losing to Francis Howell, 25-15 and 25-17, and Bloomington, 25-22 and 25-13, before ending the tournament by besting Farmington, 25-18 and 25-17.
Against Francis Howell, Smith was again the leading attacker with eight kills, followed by Simmers, who had six. Braswell had 16 assists, and James had five.
In the Bloomington game, Braswell and James duplicated their assist totals from the match with Francis Howell. Smith and Simmers also repeated their performances in their number of kills.