With the exception of Affton High School, the O’Fallon volleyball Panthers completed a successful weekend by finishing in second place in the Rockwood Summit Tournament.
Prior to their tourney appearance last Saturday, the local spikers won two of three regular season matches, defeating Belleville West in three games and Alton in straight games to notch two SWC victories.
Sandwiched between the two victories, the Panthers dropped a match to the St. Louis University High Jr. Billikens.
O’Fallon began the Rockwood Challenge with two consecutive hard fought wins. In the opening round, the Panthers faced Parkway North and battled to a 25-21, 25-21 victory. Utilizing the solid play of Parker Roustio and Alex Belongy at the net, the Panthers fought off several Parkway rallies with a flurry of kills in each game. Defensively, the OTHS squad came up big when challenged by their Missouri opponents.
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“Our play at the net was consistent, and our team showed some resiliency in rallying from deficits,” OTHS coach Katelyn Hagarty said.
The Panthers needed more of that resiliency in their second match of the day when they squared off against Ft. Zumwalt North. Each point was a battle; however, again spearheaded by Roustio and Belongy, the Panthers prevailed, winning straight games by identical 25-22 scores.
O’Fallon’s successful run ended in the semi-finals when they were bounced by Affton in straight games. Several unforced errors proved the Panthers’ downfall as they stumbled in game one, losing 25-16. Their effort was considerably more consistent in the second game which nearly forced the match into a third game. Affton capitalized on O’Fallon mishits down the stretch to pull out a 26-24 win.
In order to advance to the championship match, OTHS needed a win in their next encounter against Ft. Zumwalt East. Playing perhaps their best match of the day, the Panthers blasted their way to an early lead in game one and never looked back. Multiple service runs allowed the O’Fallon spikers to build comfortable margins in both games, and their defense was able to preserve both leads to take the match 25-9 and 25-17.
The tourney successes improved the OTHS seasonal mark to 6-3 heading into the championship battle against a familiar opponent—Affton. The title tilt played out in much the same manner as the match-up between the two squads earlier in the day. Affton gained an advantage with a series of effective service runs. The Panthers were able to scramble back into contention with critical blocks to slow Affton’s offensive momentum. The game see-sawed through the middle stages before Affton scored on a series of kills to take game one 25-21.
Unable to match their Missouri opponents’ superior serving and blocking at the net, the Panthers fell in game two 25-13, settling for a second place finish.
“Overall, I was pleased with the team’s effort at Rockwood,” Hagarty said. “We have made improvements over the last few weeks in a variety of areas and our team chemistry is becoming better as our players get used to working together. A second place finish is definitely a step in the right direction.”
The OTHS spikers will hit the tourney trail again this weekend when they travel to the Ft. Zumwalt South Invititaional.