After spending most of Saturday in a comeback mode, the Belleville West Maroons finally reached their limit.
Playing in the championship match of the Belleville East Metro Classic volleyball tournament for the first time since 2004, the Maroons lost 26-24, 25-18 to Ursuline Academy of St. Louis.
Belleville West (22-2) fell behind 10-4 in the first set and fought all the way back, serving for the game with a 24-23 lead before Ursuline (17-4) scored the final three points to escape with a win.
Perhaps a bit deflated after that emotional defeat, the Maroons fell behind 7-0 in the second set and never recovered.
“When you give a team like that a six-point lead to start off the game in both sets, it’s very hard to come back from that,” said West coach Lauren DeGirolamo, a former Louisiana State standout who starred on the last Maroons’ team that played for an East Tourney championship. “They’re a solid team and you just can’t do that. We did it both sets. Obviously it didn’t work out for us.
“They definitely caused us some trouble today.”
The weekend was still a bright one for the Maroons as they finished 4-1 and beat 2014 state tourney qualifier Normal, Cor Jesu, Mount Pulaski and Champaign Centennial.
“You have to look at what we did this weekend and how we beat a lot of top teams and a lot of good teams,” DeGirolamo said.
West’s only other loss is to O’Fallon.
Ursuline’s strong attack
Ursuline got nine kills each from freshman Anna Bair and senior Erica Maurer, but caused the Maroons as much or even more trouble with their serving. Tournament MVP Kelly Trenz had a five-point service run in the first set that included four aces and she also supplied tight defense and passing throughout the match.
“Kelly’s a great player,” Ursuline coach Gretchen Moser said. “She’s kind of the rock of the team. She leads the team on the serve-receive and the defensive end of things and she can make a huge difference in the game. Sometimes those defensive players are kind of overlooked because there’s not the ‘wow’ factor out there.”’
There was no overlooking Trenz.
Senior Kayla Juenger led the Maroons with nine kills, including seven in the first set when West was fighting hard to stay with the Bears.
Being that close to winning the first set may have put an emotional hit on the Maroons they had trouble dealing with the rest of the way, according to DeGirolamo.
“When you’re so close it is tough,” she said. “That’s one thing we’ve been doing all year, we’ve been fighting back. We’ve dug ourselves some holes quite often, but we never give up. We did run out of a little juice there in the second set; it’s hard to come back once and not have it end your way. To have to do it again is just tough.”
West saw the other side of emotional volleyball in the semifinals. The Maroons were outplayed by a significant margin in a 25-18 loss to Normal in the first set, then came flying back to post a pair of 25-18 wins that put them in the title match.
“Nothing was going our way, we weren’t playing well at all,” DeGirolamo said. “We served tougher and passed well and we were able to come out victorious.”
Parkway West beat Normal in the third-place match while Mater Dei, the only team to beat Ursuline all weekend, defeated Cor Jesu 25-22, 25-13 for fifth place. Mascoutah beat Incarnate Word 25-18, 25-17 for seventh place and Quincy beat Highland 25-18, 25-23 for ninth.
MVP-Kelly Trenz, Ursuline; All-Tourney: Shelby Ridgeway (Belleville East), Kayla Juenger (Belleville West), Ali Hanger (Belleville West), Claire Viviano (Cor Jesu), Hayley McSparin (Highland), Erin Hoener (Incarnate Word), Megan Lindsay (Mascoutah), Kelly Voss (Mater Dei), Miki Quakenbush (Normal), Jamie Poppen (Parkway West), Malina Blakemore (Quincy) and Anna Bair (Ursuline).