It wasn’t their best volleyball match of the season, especially from the service line.
But for every Mascoutah serve that sailed long or wide, there was one of the Indians’ ferocious hitters at the net to hammer home a point.
Five of them contributed kills to help Mascoutah to a 25-20, 25-19 win over Highland and the championship of the Mater Dei 3A Regional Tournament on Thursday.
“Even though we graduated four seniors, we had a lot of girls on the floor tonight who were a big part of what we did last year during that run,” Mascoutah coach Todd Gober said. “That’s paying off now because they showed a lot of composure.
“It was a hard road to get here, but it’s going to be great to get back home.”
The Indians’ regional championship reward is advancement to a sectional tournament to be played on their own home floor. Mascoutah will face Murphysboro, winner of the Benton Regional, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Mascoutah finished the match with 24 team kills, compared to 10 by Highland. Four-year starting setter Kamrynn Voypick finished the match with 23 assists.
“Kamrynn did a great job spreading the ball out antenna to antenna, so we got more hitters involved tonight, which made it tougher on their block,” Gober said.
Highland’s season ends with a school-record 30 wins against just five losses and a tie.
“That record is going to stand and they can’t take that away from the girls. That’s what I told them when we huddled at the end,” Highland coach Tina Beyer said. “We battled through 30 wins, battled through five losses and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Highland never led the match, and only twice tied games at 2 apiece. But the Bulldogs made late surges in each set to put the outcome in doubt.
In the first set, Mascoutah rallied ahead by six points, punctuated by one of Tieghan Morio’s four kills. Then Sarah Beth Wiegman served a pair of aces and coaxed a receiving error to narrow Highland’s gap to 20-18.
As if on cue, the Indians’ hitters took over. Morio picked up points on a hit and a block and Lacey Albers put two kills on the floor to close out the set.
The second set followed the same template. A service error helped Highland close to within three of the Indians when senior Nilah Roy pounded home three kills and another point on a fourth-hit bump that landed just inside the Highland service line.
“We tell our hitters, when you’re fast in transition, it opens up seams for everybody,” Gober said. “Nilah took advantage of that on the outside. When the outside gets kills like that, it must mean the inside is doing its job, too.”
Albers and Katirah Johnson got kills to close out the set and match.
Albers led the way for Mascoutah with seven kills, Johnson had six, Roy had five and Morio had four.
Highland was led by Claire Diercks five kills. Madison Wellen and Alex LaPorta each had two kills while Wiegman contributed a kill and a block.