If there was one word to describe Althoff’s performance in the Class 2A Sectional Volleyball Championship game at Nashville Thursday night it would be efficient.
The Crusaders needed just 39 minutes to dispatch Anna-Jonesboro 25-10, 25-14 to advance to the Fairfield Super-Sectional Saturday where they will take on Shelbyville at 1 p.m.
“We haven’t even won a regional since I’ve been here, so it is really exciting,” said senior middle hitter Alanna Bramwell. “We are going to try and come out strong like we did tonight and hope for the best.
“We are ready to go.”
Althoff was certainly ready to go against the Wildcats.
It doesn’t matter who we play, it’s back to work tomorrow. We’re not satisfied, we’re hungry.
Althoff coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich
The Crusaders never trailed in either game, taking advantage of an error-laden effort by Anna-Jonesboro. The Wildcats committed 20 unforced errors in the match, 12 alone in the first game. Those dozen miscues combined with three aces from the serving line by Althoff meant an easy win for the Crusaders in the first set.
“We were focused and energized and determined,” coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich said of her team’s quick start. “Anna is a very good team. We saw them on Tuesday but we didn’t really know what to expect.
“We were very calm throughout the whole match and just executed the game plan.”
Althoff wasted little time pouncing on the Wildcats in game two. Bramwell opened with a kill and followed with back-to-back blocks to help her team jump out to a quick 4-0 lead.
“That was huge,” Thomas-Dietrich said. “In between games, we told our setter to go to Alanna and we were able to utilize that.”
The Crusaders stretched the lead to 8-2 before Anna-Jonesboro battled back to close the gap to 12-8.
But a kill by Leighten Kaiser ignited a 5-0 spurt for Althoff that featured consecutive kills from Lindsay See, Louise Comerford and two by Emily Myatt to put the lead at 17-8.
The Crusaders never looked back, earning their first sectional title since 2007.
“It’s pretty cool,” Myatt said, sporting a huge grin after the match. “This is a new experience for all of us and to be able to do it with this group of people is just a blast.”
Comerford, Althoff’s sophomore setter, echoed those sentiments.
“We are a really close team, and we just have so much fun together,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
Thomas-Dietrich, whose team improved to 18-17 on the season, is looking forward to facing the challenges ahead with her young squad.
“It’s an amazing feeling, but our journey is not done,” she said. “We need to play Crusader volleyball just like we have this entire postseason. It doesn’t matter who we play, it’s back to work tomorrow.
“We’re not satisfied, we’re hungry.”