Kaylee Hanger and Katherine Koch wanted nothing more than to help Belleville West become the first team to hang a loss on Althoff this season.
And led by the those two, the Maroons pulled it off, overcoming a somewhat sloppy effort in a first-set loss to defeat the Crusaders 18-25, 25-22, 25-22 on Tuesday night at Bellevillle West High School.
Hanger and Koch collected 13 kills apiece. Hanger also topped the Maroons with 17 assists. Koch added 12 digs to rank second on West, behind 13 from Nisha Quarles.
“We knew we needed to carry the momentum from the second game into the third,” said Koch. “We really wanted to be the team to hand them their first loss. The thought of that really helped us.”
The loss snapped the Crusaders’ win streak at 19 matches. Althoff had won 21 consecutive regular-season matches dating back to last season.
“I want to say West played really well,” said Crusaders coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich. “And I know West really wanted this; it’s the Althoff-West game.
“Their seniors really stepped up and found a way to win. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
After a some rough play in the opening set, West seemed to find itself in the early moments of the second racing to a 10-2 lead en route to evening the match.
“We kind of pulled everyone together (after the first set) and just said we have nothing to lose,” said Hanger. “And we came out really strong.”
The third set was tight until a 6-2 surge put the Maroons ahead 18-14. Althoff would get to within a point on two occasions at 19-18 and 23-22.
But a Koch kill ended what would be the Crusaders’ final serve and put the Maroons at match point. A kill by Hanger ended it.
Maroons coach Lauren DeGirolamo was proud of her entire team’s effort as it defeated Althoff for the fourth consecutive season.
“Kaylee and Katherine, as usual, got their kills” said DeGirolamo, whose team improved to 15-3. “But I thought at the end, Nisha Quarles had some big hits. Our defense played really well.
“Anytime you can beat Althoff it’s an exciting win because they are one of our cross-town rivals.”
Karinna Gall led Althoff at the net with 11 kills. Addie Burris was next with nine.
“We need to look at this as a learning opportunity,” said Thomas-Dietrich. “We never expected we’d go through the season undefeated and nor did we want too.
“The monkey is off our back now and the girls know the feeling of a loss. They’ll be ready to get back in the gym.”
Althoff is back in action Thursday when it hosts Carbondale on Thursday. The Maroons also play Thursday, traveling to Gibault.