Here are the weekly Belleville News-Democrat Game Balls given to area volleyball players for some top performances:
- Edwardsville junior Rachel Pranger was named MVP while helping her 6-0 team win the championship at the Edwardsville Tiger Classic. She’s hitting at a 37.9 percent clip, averaging 6.5 kills per game and also has nine service aces and a 91-percent serve receive success rate. Pranger also is second on the Tigers with 10 blocks.
- Belleville West senior libero Kacie Kinnikin and senior Nikki Gaskill each earned all-tournament honors at the Quincy Early Bird tournament last weekend. Kinnikin recorded 20 or more digs in the two of the Maroons’ matches while providing solid defense.
- O’Fallon senior Cassie Reno earned all-tournament honors at the Edwardsville Tiger Classic and helped the Panthers reach the championship match, where she had nine kills in a loss to Edwardsville. Reno’s 28 overall kills this season are tied for third on the Panthers and she also leads the team with eight blocks.
- Highland senior Alex LaPorta and sophomore Emmy Nyquist each were named to the all-tournament team after the Bulldogs went 5-0 to win the Carbondale Preview Tournament. It was quite a run for LaPorta, who had 42 kills, 87 digs, 11 blocks, 25 service points and nine service aces. She had 13 kills in the championship match victory over Massac County.
- Belleville East senior Holly Badgley set a school record by serving 15 straight points in the second set of the Lancers’ recent win over Waterloo. She finished the bats with 12 kills, 12 digs, two blocks and a service ace.
- The versatile skills of Mater Dei senior Erica Hitpas continue to pay dividends for the Knights. The Western Illinois University recruit leads the Knights with 82 digs and is one of the area’s top servers (16 aces, 58 service-points) and serve-receive defenders. Hitpas had 12 service points and four aces Tuesday in the Knights’ two-set win over O’Fallon.
- Freeburg setter Abby Quirin piled up 106 assists over the weekend (8.8 per game) to help the Midgets finish 3-2 at the Edwardsville Tiger Classic. Quirin also added 49 digs at the tournament.
- Red Bud’s Morgan Cowell is rapidly become one of the area kill leaders after racking up 17 kills twice last week, against Mascoutah and Trico, then adding 15 more against Wesclin. An all-tournament performer at the Marissa-New Athens Labor Day Tournament, Cowell has 90 kills this season to rank among the St. Louis area leaders.
- Central Cougars junior outside hitter Kim Hall has been among her team’s top players this season and recently had a match against Nashville with nine kills, 15 serving points, six aces and seven digs.
- Granite City senior setter and captain Megan Burge helped the Warriors to a second-place finish at the Alton Redbird Classic tourney and also earned all-tournament honors. The six-rotation player takes turns as a setter and right-side hitter.
- New Athens senior middle hitter Jordan Drake leads the Yellow Jackets in kills with 25 and also made the all-tournament team at the New Athens-Marissa Tournament.
BND Girls Volleyball Rankings
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses.
Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)
Also receiving votes: Belleville West (4-3), Freeburg (6-2), Highland (7-0), Alton (7-1), Waterloo (4-4), Central (2-1), Civic Memorial (5-1), Belleville East (1-3), Granite City (4-2)
Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)
Also receiving votes: Valmeyer (2-3), Carlyle (3-2), Nashville (2-4), Metro-East Lutheran (3-5), Lebanon (0-5)