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Defending Class 3A state champion Althoff to face stiff competition at Metro Classic Volleyball Tournament

O'Fallon's Lauren LePere sets up a hit.
O'Fallon's Lauren LePere sets up a hit.

The defending Class 3A state volleyball champion Althoff Crusaders haven’t shown any signs of slowing down during the 2018 season.

Fresh off a pair of solid tournament performances earlier this month and a victory over Belleville West earlier this week, the Crusaders (17-3) have been awarded the top seed at the Belleville East Metro Classic Volleyball Tournament, sponsored by Wendy’s, which begins Friday at Belleville East High School and Southwestern Illinois College.

Althoff, which was pushed to the limit a year ago by Mater Dei in a semi-final win before defeating St. Louis power Cor Jesu in two sets in the final, will be put to the test once again this weekend as event organizers have put together another stellar 18-team field which includes many of the top teams from southern and central Illinois as well as the St. Louis area.

Included in the field are Mater Dei, O’Fallon, Belleville East, Belleville West, Mascoutah, Gibault and Columbia along with Normal High School from central Illinois. Cor Jesu and Nerinx Hall are two of the top teams from St. Louis competing in the two day tournament.

Belleville East coach Stefanie Gaubatz said the field is loaded with strong players and teams.

“It really is a strong tournament. I haven’t seen Althoff play yet but I know they are having another strong season and they were awarded the No. 1 seed,’’ Gaubatz said. “But there are so many good teams. O’Fallon is having a good year and I know Mater Dei is always strong.

“But it’s going to depend on who comes to play and plays well for two days.’’

Althoff is led by juniors Karinna Gall and Katie Wemhoener as they begin defense of its title at 5 p.m. Friday when pool play begins at Belleville East and SWIC.

Teams will be put in flights beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. That will be followed by bracket play with the championship match in the top bracket set for 1 p.m.

Mater Dei (13-5) is led by Morgan Revermann (96 Kills), while O’Fallon (15-3) is led by the one-two punch of Kenzee Simmers (145 kills) and Lauren LePere (140 kills)..