On the brink of being pushed to three sets Thursday by Althoff, the Mascoutah Indians discovered they had another level of intensity to reach on the way to victory.
After squeaking out a narrow win in the first set, Mascoutah fought back from deficits of 11-5 and 24-21 in the second to clinch a hard-earned 25-21, 27-25 girls volleyball win over the Crusaders.
A crucial double-block by Mascoutah’s Lacey Albers and Katirah Johnson broke a 25-25 tie and the Indians scored the next point to clinch an emotiona victory. What turned things around in the second set when it seemed almost certainly headed to a decisive third set?
“I think we started to cover the tips a little bit better,” Mascoutah coach Todd Gober said after his team improved to 7-2. “They’ve got some experience and they battle, they’re used to it. We’re trying to get them to be a little gritty and get their own identity, that was a help in this one.
“I think they are a tough mental group. This group’s got the mental edge that we want.”
On the other side of the court, Althoff coach Sara Dietrich sensed definite improvement in her 3-2 team.
Althoff battled back hard in the first set and got to within 22-19 and 24-21 before losing. In the second, the Crusaders failed to slam the door at the end and the Indians found enough of an opening to escape.
We’re trying to get them to be a little gritty and get their own identity, that was a help in this one. I think they are a tough mental group.
Mascoutah coach Todd Gober on the Indians
“I think we thought we had it instead of the mentality of ‘We have to earn this point and finish the game on our end,’ not hope that they make a mistake,” Dietrich said. “I think that’s what got us into trouble. If we want to be one of the top dogs, we’ve got to beat the top dogs and play like them/
“Being close with them right now is OK, but we need to be beating these teams to really prepare us for the postseason. We don’t want to be a .500 team like we have been for the last however many years.”
A four-point service run by Mascoutah’s Sydney Waeltz, who also had 14 digs, erased the Althoff lead and put the Indians on top 16-14.
Back to back kills by Althoff’s Emily Myatt, who finished with 10 kills on the night, gave the Crusaders a 20-18 advantage but Mascoutah would not go away.
Even after a kill by Althoff freshman Karinna Gall put her team within a point of a win at 24-21, the Indians gathered themselves and fought back.
Kills by Mascoutah’s Tieghan Morio and Katirah Johnson and a service ace from Morio tied it 24-24. With Althoff again one point from forcing a third set, a kill by Mascoutah’s Nilah Roy knotted things at 25 before the Indians scored two straight points to put the match away.
If we want to be one of the top dogs, we’ve got to beat the top dogs and play like them. Being close with them right now is OK, but we need to be beating these teams to really prepare us for the postseason.
Althoff coach Sara Dietrich
“We’ve been talking about how we need to work on playing (well) when we’re down, so it was really helpful for them to give us our best match,” said Albers, a Willian Jewell recruit. “We were playing well when we were down and came back at the end there. A couple critical points ... it was really just a battle at the end.”
Roy had eight kills and nine digs for Mascoutah while Johnson and Morio had six kills each. Kamrynn Voypick had a steady hand at setter with 22 assists.
Along with Myatt’s 10 kills, Althoff got eight kills and 28 assists from Louise Comerford and four kills from Gall. Althoff’s Katie Allard had 15 digs and Annika Beal had 11.