Senior libero Haley Elam sparked a Champaign St. Thomas More comeback with a five-point service run midway through the third game as the Sabres defeated Nashville 19-25, 25-15, 25-16 Saturday in the third-place match at the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament.
Only 24 hours after a disappointing semifinal loss to Galena, Nashville (32-10) was on the verge of taking home the third-place trophy after Emily Schnitker’s three-point streak made the score 10-7.
But it didn’t last. A pair of errors followed by a kill by the Sabres’ Anna McClure cut the Hornets lead to 11-10. Elam then followed with her service run, which included three kills by Allie Trame, to give St. Thomas More a 15-11 lead.
Minutes later, Anna McClure served two aces and when Trame followed with her 17th kill of the match, the Sabres had a 20-13 lead. The Hornets would get no closer as St. Thomas More pulled away for the win.
“I was concerned how we would play after losing on Friday. I knew how disappointed everybody was after we lost the semifinal,’’ Sabres coach Stan Bergman said. “I’m just just proud of these young ladies. The work they have put in the last couple of years is amazing. I can’t thank them enough for their dedication.
“Today, we didn’t play great. But these seniors didn’t want to end their careers with a loss.’’ The Class 2A state champions a year ago, the Sabres end their season at 37-5.
Nashville also bounced back after a disappointing performance in the semifinals. The Hornets, whose only other state tournament appearance came in 1989, trailed for much of the first game.
Falling behind by as many as five points (14-9), Nashville cut the Sabres lead to 17-16 on a kill by Jenna Harris. Senior defensive specialist Bailey Schuette followed with a four-point run, three of which came on hitting errors by the Sabres, to give Nashville a 20-17 lead.
Minutes later, Nashville won the game on a kill by Bailey Melton and a pair of errors by the Sabres.
Maintaining the momentum, Nashville built a 10-6 lead in game two before the mistakes started to creep in and Trame began to assert herself at the net. A 6-2 middle blocker, Trame had a hand in nine of the Sabres’ final 15 points in the second game.
“She (Trame) is a great player and St. Thomas More is a great team with a tremendous program. We had them on the ropes. We took them to a third game,’’ Nashville coach Josh Konkel said. “I can’t say enough about these girls on this team. They are one of the greatest teams in school history and they’ll remember this weekend for the rest of their lives.
“They will always be able to walk into our gym, see the banner and the trophy and realize they were part of something very special.’’