As one of the last spring sports to begin competition, it took a while for the OTHS boys volleyball team to make it onto the court, but once there, they made their debut a successful one, blasting Granite City in straight games Tuesday evening.
Behind the veteran presence of senior Alex Belongy, the revamped Panther lineup executed well both offensively and defensively in securing their season-opening victory.
Belongy, one of the few returning starters with experience, led the way from the outset, serving up five aces during the first game. Two of the five came early, putting the Panthers on top 3-2. They never trailed after that. Senior Austin Minor followed Belongy’s lead midway in the first game, going on a service runs that boosted the OTHS advantage from 14-10 to 19-10.
After shaking off some first game jitters, the entire Panther squad contributed to the victory. Sophomore Luke Meidel and senior Parker Roustio finished the match with six kills each. Junior Mike Hovick added three kills. Junior Lucas Hackmann, a transfer from Metro East Lutheran, dished out 14 assists, and sophomore Ryan Nelson led the team with 13 digs.
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“It was a good start for the team,”OTHS coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “It was obvious in the early going that we were a bit nervous—a little tentative. But once they settled in to playing like they have practiced the results were excellent.”
After collecting a 25-12 victory in the first game, the Panther spikers wrapped up the win in the second game, although not without a few tense moments. Granite City proved more competitive with its backs to the wall, matching the OTHS squad in the early stages of the second game and eventually squeezing into a 9-7 lead.
Kills by Belongy and Roustio brought the Panthers back, tying the game at 10-10. Luke Meidel helped the local spikers regain control of the match, blasting an ace and picking up four consecutive service points after the Panthers had evened the score.