Limiting scoring runs by the opposition are a big part of achieving success in volleyball.
Few teams are better at that than the Althoff Crusaders.
On only one occasion Thursday night did Althoff allow Freeburg to score more than two points in a row — a big reason why the Crusaders came away with a 25-13, 25-19 victory in the championship match of the Class 3A Mascoutah Regional.
It’s the third consecutive regional crown for Althoff, which improved to 36-1 and is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by MaxPreps, and moves them into a Monday semifinal against Murphysboro at the Benton sectional. The Red Devils advanced with a 25-16, 25-21 win over Carbondale at the Carbondale regional.
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That match will begin at 5:30 p.m. It will be followed by the second semifinal between Mater Dei and Massac County.
“That’s always our goal,” said Althoff senior hitter Karinna Gall, who led both teams with nine kills. “Try and keep them out of their system by forcing them to side out right away.
“Our serve-receive did a really great job of getting up the passes to set up our attack.”
The only time Freeburg managed to reel off any sort of run came late in the second game. It lasted just three points, by which time the Crusaders were ready to close matters out.
An Althoff hitting error had Freeburg within 23-19, but a Gall kill returned serve to the Crusaders, and seconds later the regional plaque belonged to them.
“That was absolutely the difference,” said Freeburg coach Brooke Kloess, whose team bows out at 26-9. “I told them, whenever we get the ball back, we needed to run off two or three points in a row before they got a kill on us.
“They were in system almost every time, and when they are like that, they are tough to stop.”
The first set was tight until Althoff put together a 11-4 scoring surge. The Crusaders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set and had the lead the rest of the way, after Freeburg tied it for the final time at 9-9.
“That’s just being consistent and not making those unforced errors,” said Crusaders coach Sara Dietrich-Thomas. “It’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at.”
Addie Burris had eight kills for Althoff, and standout senior setter Louise Comerford had 35 assists.
“Freeburg was really scrappy and all over the floor,” said Comerford. “But we knew what we had to do.
“We told ourselves to keep things simple before it started, and we definitely did that.”
Miranda Schulte and Lexie Smith had four kills apiece to lead the Midgets.