Earlier this season, the O’Fallon Panthers traveled to Mater Dei and left with a two-set volleyball victory over the Knights.
That power-blue trimmed gym in Breese has become a graveyard for metro-east volleyball teams through the years, but the Panthers made it out alive Sept. 8 with a 25-23, 25-19 victory.
The big question now is can the Panthers do it again in a neutral setting? O’Fallon (31-5) meets Mater Dei (30-7 in the Class 4A Springfield Sectional semifinals in a 6:30 p.m. match Tuesday at Alton High School.
“There is this attitude that they know how to win,” O’Fallon coach Melissa Massey said of a Mater Dei volleyball program that has won an area-leading seven state titles and finished third in Class 3A last season. “They breathe it, they’ve lived it. It’s one of those things.”
O’Fallon owns four straight regional titles but has never won a sectional despite two trips to the sectional final. Massey is hoping this is the Panthers’ year.
There is this attitude that they know how to win. They breathe it, they’ve lived it. It’s one of those things.
O’Fallon coach Melissa Massey on Mater Dei volleyball
“For us, it’s getting into the thick of it all and winning these regionals and seeing what it’s like,” Massey said. “The kids are finally starting to see that there’s something to be proud of with this program. We work our butts, off, that’s the truth.
“I was impressed with the girls going into their gym and not being rattled at all. They handled it with poise and composure.”
Massey said Mater Dei is solid at a lot of things, but playing defense might be at the top of the list.
“They’re a team that keeps the ball in play,” she said. “Regardless of what’s happening on the other side, they know they get out of sticky situations.”
Elise Smith (265 kills, 31 aces), Mackenzie Koester (178 kills, 363 assists, 60 blocks), Anna Strake (165 kills, 77 blocks, 30 aces), Imani Williamson (159 kills), Cassie Reno (129 kills, 61 blocks), Alison Fournie (472 assists), Renae Moeller (267 digs).
Scouting Mater Dei
Kelly Voss (310 kills, 345 digs, 32 aces), Erica Lampe (167 kills), Kat Maue (98 kills, 62 blocks, 50 aces), Katie Haake (421 assists), Brooke Remmert (392 assists, 30 aces), Abby Hellmann (87 kills), Taylor Holtgrave (212 digs).
Class 2A Nashville Sectional
Althoff is after its first sectional volleyball title since 2007, when the Crusaders finished fourth at the Class 3A state tourney. Playing such a competitive regular-season schedule before entering the 2A playoffs could help them considerably here.
Althoff (16-17) takes on Edwards County in a 7 p.m. semifinal game Tuesday at Nashville.
“Not knowing to really expect, we’re really just focusing on us and what we can do, playing our game,” Althoff coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich said. “The girls have that drive, they want it bad. They are all on board and they are all in. When you have that kind of team chemistry going forward, the good play increased and everyone plays well.”
Dietrich is hoping the presence of Central Arkansas recruit Alanna Bramwell, a 6-2 senior middle hitter, and the power of junior outside hitter Emily Myatt can help make a difference.
“Alanna just has that presence on the court, especially with her blocking, that you don’t find very often,” Dietrich said. “She knows that and she wants to dominate in all the areas.”
Alanna Bramwell (150 kills, 36 blocks), Emily Myatt (190 kills, 204 digs), Louise Comerford (92 kills, 431 assists), Lindsay See (76 assists), Katie Allard (327 digs, Aliyah Gillespie (27 aces).
Class 3A Herrin Sectional
Columbia (32-4) has only four losses this season. The only one of those that came in two sets was against Murphysboro (33-4), Columbia’s semifinal opponent at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Herrin Sectional. An extremely aggressive Murphysboro squad won that one 26-24, 25-17 Sept. 12 at the Mascoutah Tournament.
“We just couldn’t pull anything together, couldn’t get a pass,” said Columbia coach Kelly Landgraf, whose team has won its last 14 matches. “I went back and looked and we had 11 hitting errors, 16 serve-receive errors and eight missed serves. Everything went wrong in that game. I think that we’re excited to get to play them again.”
Columbia’s other losses are to Mascoutah, Highland and Cor Jesu. Murphysboro, led by Heather Cross, has won 25 straight and also won the River-to-River Conference title.
Everything went wrong in that game. I think that we’re excited to get to play them again.
Columbia coach Kelly Landgraf on a rematch with Murphysboro
The Eagles have a big weapon in junior outside hitter Colene Hamilton, but Landgraf pointed out how others have gradually claimed their own piece of the puzzle to help build success.
“The way that everyone else steps up and makes it a great night for us ... there’s so many different people we can go to,” Landgraf said. “Colene’s pretty flashy because she’s got the big vertical and she’s very quick, but we’ve got some of the top hitters in the metro area in hitting and blocking.
“Just being able to go to anyone, really, there’s a lot of strengths.”
Mascoutah (30-7) takes on Carbondale (24-11) in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. Tuesday and the Indians appear to be the favorite to advance led by Murray State recruit Megan Lindsay and Southern Indiana recruit Amanda Jung.
Mascoutah is 13-2 in their last 15 matches, losing only to Belleville West and Bloomington Central Catholic.
Colene Hamilton (284 kills, 330 digs), Alyssa Yochum (208 kills, 53 blocks), Jordan Hausmann (145 kills, 101 blocks), Claire Foster (132 kills, 85 blocks), Kelly Metter (538 digs), Claire Long (337 digs), Elizabeth Fleming (464 assists, 29 aces), Allison Jackson (389 assists).
Megan Lindsay (246 kills, 262 digs), Amanda Jung (177 kills, 229 digs), Tieghan Morio (158 kills, 34 blocks), Katirah Johnson (147 kills, 120 blocks), Lacey Albers (104 kills), Kamrynn Voypick (46 aces), Maddy Nekola (42 aces).
Class 1A Playoffs
Valmeyer (23-11) takes on Crab Orchard at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals of the Norris City Sectional, while Metro-East Lutheran (12-22) plays Clay City at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the St. Elmo Sectional. Both sectional finals are Thursday.
April Thomason (220 kills, 93 blocks), Jordyn Killy (202 kills, 225 assists, 38 blocks, 39 aces), Sam Seidel (137 kills, 46 aces), Blair Brady (299 assists, 37 aces), Guin Kohnz (140 assists), Savannah Williams (232 digs, 40 aces), Cierra Goldschmidt (275 digs).
Scouting Metro-East Lutheran
Courtney Fenelon (161 kills), Ellen Schulte (158 kills, 57 blocks, 33 aces), Danielle Timmermann (136 kills, 311 digs, 25 aces), Ashlee Robinson (92 kills, 55 blocks), Tori Harrison (430 digs), Lydia Flaherty (345 digs).