On a night when some second-game woes of Mascoutah threatened to extend the match, the Indians got a lift from an unexpected source Thursday at Mascoutah High School.
Junior Katirah Johnson had three kills late in game two as Mascoutah held off a late Althoff rally and went on to clinch a 25-14, 25-23 win in a nonconference volleyball match.
Dominated in the first game by the strong play of senior outside hitter Megan Lindsay and Amanda Jung on the right side, Althoff came back strong in game two and led 19-18 following an ace by senior setter Alliyah Gillespie.
But Johnson, a powerfully built 6-foot middle blocker, first tied the game, then with Tieghan Morio serving, gave Mascoutah (6-3) the lead with back-to-back kills.
Lindsay then followed with her 10th kill of the match and when senior right-side hitter Paige Weiss scored on a block, the Indians had a 22-19 lead.
Althoff rallied three times to cut the Indians lead to a single point.
But with the score at 24-23, the Crusaders were called for a violation, giving the Indians the win.
Following the match, Indians coach Todd Gober said he was pleased at how his team played in the first game. The second one, played against a much-improved Althoff squad, left a little bit to be desired.
“I thought we came out and played very well in the first game. But as we have done several times this year, we had a little lull in game two. Give Althoff credit though, they came back at us and played well the second game,’’ Gober said. “I’m still waiting for us to put two games together on a consistent basis.
“This team has a lot of potential, but for some reason we seem to lose our focus in the second game of matches.’’
If Gober was unhappy about how his team played in game two, Althoff coach Sarah Thomas-Dietrich must have felt much the same way about game one as the Crusaders never led and had trouble stopping the 6-foot Lindsay, who had seven of her 10 kills.
Headed to Murray State University, Lindsay finished with 10 kills, 23 assists and five digs against, most of which came in the first game.
“I thought played much better in game two,’’ Dietrich said. “We blocked must better and I thought we moved the ball much better as well. The key for us is to keep improving and to use this kind of effort to help get us ready for the tournament this weekend in Effingham.
“We’re improving and I like how we’re playing right now.’’
Althoff came out firing in a game two, which was close the entire way. A five-point service run by Paige Weiss, which included an ace and a kill by Amanda Jung and Lindsey, gave Mascoutah a four-point lead.
But three-point service runs by Burris and Gillespie helped keep Althoff close.
That is until Johnson and Jung took over late.
“She (Johnson) is a big strong girl with a lot of power and jumping ability,’’ Gober said. “Our setters are learning where to get her the ball and with her wingspan, she’s got a lot of power to be able to put the ball away. She’s got a good future.’’
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.