After winning a crucial Southwestern Conference battle against Edwardsville, the O’Fallon boys’ volleyball team ran into a scheduling buzz saw but emerged relatively unscathed, going 3- 2-1 during the past week and finishing fifth in the prestigious Lafayette Invitational. The weekly court action gives Coach Katelyn Hagarty’s squad a 17-6-1 mark for the 2016 campaign as they prepare to host their own invitational tourney this Friday and Saturday in the Panther Dome.
The emotional 3-game win over the Tigers was followed by another marathon match against highly-touted Chicago Marist. The two squads battled through the three games with only a few points separating them at nearly every juncture. After dropping the first game 25-22, the Panther spikers rallied behind excellent play at the net from Michael Hovick and Lucas Hackmann. A final flurry of kills allowed O’Fallon to tie the match with a 25-22 win. Rallies were the name of the game in the tie-breaker. Each team eked out three point advantages as the game progressed, but Marist outlasted the Panthers with solid defense and opportune points on long rallies to win 26-24.
O’Fallon entered tournament play at Lafayette, facing a gauntlet of ranked Missouri schools beginning with Marquette High School, who was 14-4 entering the match. After a slow start in game one, the Panthers rallied to close to within two points before losing 26-24. In the second game, O’Fallon finally hit their stride offensively with Hovick, Hackmann, Jason Dorries and Gabe Narsigian blasting home winners, which allowed the Panthers to escape with a win 25-19 and a tie in round one of pool play. They could not escape in round two, falling the powerful St. Louis University High in straight games. The Jr. Billikens entered the match with a 19-1 seasonal mark and early in the contest demonstrated why they are ranked as one of the top teams in the St. Louis area. Despite their lofty ranking and a regular season win already registered against the Panthers, SLUH had their hands full with the Panthers who proved worthy opponents. The Jr. Billikens knocked off the OTHS spikers 25-21, 25-18, eventually advancing to the tourney title match before losing to host Lafayette. The O’Fallon squad rebounded from the defeat, finishing the tourney with three consecutive wins. The Panthers stopped their mini-swoon with a straight game win over O’Fallon Christian. Regaining some momentum, the local spikers faced DeSmet (18-5-2). Establishing dominance at the net with Hovick, Dorries and Hackman leading the charge, the Panthers pounded DeSmet 25-13 in game one and rallied to sweep the Missouri school with a narrow 29-27 win in game two. O’Fallon wrapped the tourney on a positive note with a straight game victory over Francis Howell.