Even after combining for 23 kills in the opening match against Triad, Belleville West seniors Kaylee Hanger and Katherine Koch only got better at the Quincy Invitational Volleyball Tournament.
Hanger, who is headed to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County next year, earned tournament MVP honors. Koch also earned all-tournament honors as the Maroons won the championship with a three-game win over host Blue Devils.
“It’s always a test to win the opening match of the season one night and then head to Quincy to play five matches in two days. But I thought our girls handled it well,” Maroons coach Lauren Lauren Degirolamo said. “We’ve got three or four girls back who played a lot last year and we have enough experience back to where I think this should be a good season.
“For us to get out on the road and play and beat teams that we normally don’t see is a good way to start the season.”
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The five wins this weekend, which included a semi-final victory over Galesburg, lift the Maroons to 6-0 heading into a match at home Tuesday against Freeburg..
Hanger, who will play libero in college but is currently an outside hitter for the Maroons, led the way at Quincy with her solid all-around play.
“Kaylee does a great job with her defense but she’s really all over the court for us. She had an outstanding tournament, obviously because the other coaches chose her asd the MVP,” Degirolamo said. “But Katherine (Koch) had a great weekend as well and we had other girls also play well. It was a good start.”
West will have several other non-conference tests before opening Southwestern Conference play Sept. 19 against O’Fallon. The Maroons will play in the Jacksonville Tournament beginning Friday and have tough non-league games with Mater Dei, Nerinx Hall (Missouri) and Red Bud.
As for the SWC, Degirolamo thinks its wide open.
“I think Edwardsville may be the favorite because they have a lot of players from last year. But then you also have O’Fallon and I think Belleville East should be strong as well with us in there too,” Degirolamo said. “The Southwestern Conference is so strong. You have to be ready to play each night.”