After dropping the first set 25-13 to the Mascoutah Indians on Monday, the Belleville West volleyball team seemed ready for a quick trip back to Belleville.
However, the Maroons survived an emotional second set to win 25-23, then dug even deeper to post a 26-24 victory to win the match between two of the area’s top girls volleyball teams.
“You want to be playing your best against the best teams in the area and that first set was not our best,” Belleville West coach Lauren DeGirolamo said after watching the Maroons (17-7) get shredded in the opening set thanks in large part to a 10-point service run by Mascoutah’s Tieghan Morio that included three aces. “It’s a little concerning going into the second set, but the girls really stepped it up and I’ve seen that a lot this season.
“We’re kind of an up and down team but when our backs are up against the wall we don’t give up. We keep fighting.”
It was a win eerily reminiscent of West’s 32-30, 31-29 victory over Althoff last week that saw the Maroons demonstrate similar comeback ability.
Katherine Koch and Kaylee Hanger delivered 10 kills each for the Maroons with Koch contributing 20 assists. Hanger and Kacie Kinnikin each had 15 digs and defense played a huge role in the West comeback.
Volleyball is a huge momentum game and once you start to gain it, it becomes pretty powerful and we saw that tonight. West took the momentum and the match.
Mascoutah coach Todd Gober
Nikki Gaskill had five kills and five blocks while the Maroons’ Kyle Burke added three blocks.
Mascoutah had a 22-21 lead in the second set and seemed poised to close out the win. A kill by Koch, who then delivered back-to-back service aces, helped turn the tide.
In an equally tight third set, the teams battled to a draw nearly every point from 17-17 on with neither squad backing down. It was 24-24 when West got a laser kill from Hanger and a big block by Burke to nail down the win.
Mascoutah coach Todd Gober lamented his team’s inability to follow through on the great first-set karma and solid play.
“Yeah, we’ve seen that a lot,” Gober said. “I felt like we had it under control. We had a nice plan, we were executing and we were playing pretty consistent — and they hung around long enough to turn it around. Volleyball is a huge momentum game and once you start to gain it, it becomes pretty powerful and we saw that tonight.
“West took the momentum and the match.”
The Indians (18-7) got eight kills from Morio, seven from Katirah Johnson and 29 assists from Kamrynn Voypick.
West seemed to force the Indians’ into more mistakes by putting up a better block in the second set, which was backed up by numerous athletic digs all over the floor.
Gober found another reason for the turnaround, too.
“Their team did a nice job hitting around the block,” he said. “We were not as effective as I’d like to see and that’s mostly a credit to their hitters, because they saw hands and they hit around hands. They’re not real big, but they’re smart. They’ve got a good volleyball IQ.”