Mascoutah is state-bound.
For the first time in school history, the Mascoutah volleyball team will be playing in the state semi-finals.
After losing the first set, Mascoutah came back Saturday to beat Quincy Notre Dame (34-5) 19-25, 25-20, 25-9 to win their first Class 3A Super Sectional title at Memorial Gymnasium at East Alton-Wood River High School.
Entering the match, QND coach Rick Meyer knew his Lady Raiders faced a tall order with Mascoutah (33-7). Mascoutah has seven players that are at least 5-foot-10-inches.
Meyer had good reason to be concerned. On Saturday, Mascoutah finished with 35 blocks.
“Eventually their size takes a toll,” Meyer said. “We’re not very big. We have to play twice as hard to be equal them, and you can only do that so long. A three-game match like that will take its toll on us, not on them.”
Mascoutah’s front line features Lacey Albers, Katriah Johnson, Amanda Jung and Megan Lindsay, Amanda Jung, Katriah Johnson, who are all listed at 6-0. That foursome finished the match with 27 combined blocks, including nine from Johnson and eight from Albers. Jung and Lindsay had five blocks apiece.
“We came in here knowing exactly what we had to do,” said Jung, who also had eight kills. We didn’t want our season to end. All season long, we have had the mentality that we don’t have the mentality for losing. We’ve been talking about winning.”
Mascoutah brought that winning mentality onto the court on Saturday. Mascoutah will play Woodstock on Friday in the state semifinals at Red Bird Arena in Bloomington. Woodstock defeated Oak Park 25-16, 25-12 Saturday in the Elmhurst Super Sectional.
“What a great run,” Mascoutah coach Todd Gober said. “What a great day. And the ride continues.”
Mascoutah’s latest win came in a roller coaster match. Quincy led the second 20-19 in the second set, before Mascoutah went on a 6-0 run. Mascoutah continued their strong play their third set, outscoring QND 20-4 at one point.
“Quincy was solid,” Gober said. “They are very solid and a very disciplined team. In the first game, they played a very clean match. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was still very solid and made me worry. It was a test of our composure.”
After the first set, Gober hoped his players would come out strong and play aggressive in the second set.
“We had to keep doing what we do,” he said.
Mascoutah did just that. They played strong, served aggressive and let their block eventually affect the match.
“Our block can take over matches,” Gober said.
The Mascoutah block was on a record pace in the second and third sets. In fact, Mascoutah outscored QND 32-9 at one point.
“That was our best blocking rotation ever,” Gober said.
Gober said he was able to get the match up he wanted in the second match, when he was able to put Katirah Johnson and Amanda Jung up against QND’s no. 1 outside hitter, Riley Hummert.
“That was the match up we wanted,” Gober said. “And it just worked out.”
It more than worked out.
Jung believes the match changed after they started to make some defensive blocks against Hummert.
“As soon as our blocks started to come together, we started to piece it all together,” Jung said. “Our middle has been phenomenal. Plain and simple, our block really worked well for us tonight.”
While this was the first time Macoutah and QND played each other this season. Jung said her team watched a number of videos of QND on You Tube earlier in the week.
“We found No. 5 (Hummert) was their biggest hitter and their big threat,” Jung said.
While Hummert came out strong early, her play was minimized in the final two sets.
“After the first game I was a little worried,” Jung said.
But Jung said her team came together in the third and deciding game.
She also dismissed some detractors, who say Mascoutah is not a volleyball town.
“Look at us now,” she said. “We’ve come a really long way.”
Gober said Mascoutah will now need to stay strong and keep this momentum at state.
“We will need to serve tough, and be patient,” he said. “Our girls aren’t on auto pilot. But (the coaching staff) can tell them the plan, and they go out and do it. They stay calm and collected. It’s a good group. They are a special group.”