For the Althoff Crusaders it was all about execution on Tuesday at the Class 2A Pinckneyville Volleyball Sectional.
Junior Lindsay See capped a late comeback in game one with a game-winning kill and the Crusaders took off from there as they defeated Hamilton County 26-24, 25-9 in a semifinal match at Pinckneyville High School.
Fresh off winning its first regional title in 10 years, the Foxes turned a 22-17 deficit into a 24-22 lead thanks to a six point service run by Adrienne Winemiller, before a block and kill by Althoff junior setter Louise Comerford tied the game at 24.
After the Crusaders took a 25-24 lead with Katie Allard serving, See slammed home the game-winning kill.
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Kaiser then sparked Althoff with a six-point service run early in game two as the Crusaders took a 14-5 lead and coasted into the title match on Thursday against Edwards County. The win is also the 100th in the Althoff coaching career of Sara Dietrich whose team improved to 20-12 for the season.
“I bet it’s been four or five years since we won 20 matches in a season and so that is a nice accomplishment for the girls,” Dietrich said. “The 100 wins makes me think of all the players who have been here during this time. They’ve all been a part of this.”
Althoff will return to Pinckneyville on Thursday and will take on Edwards County in the title match beginning at 6 p.m. The Lions won the first semifinal when they outlasted Red Bud 22-25, 31-29, 25-23 in a three game, two-hour volleyball marathon.
But for most of the first game, the Crusaders’ date in the championship match was in serious doubt.
With outside hitters Ramsey Clark and Kaleigh Dodson combining for eight kills, the Foxes looked as if they would seize control of the match until the Crusaders rallied to take game one.
“Our hitting percentage was very low in the first game so we made a few minor adjustments in game two and played much better,” Dietrich said. “It was all about execution and when we started executing better in game two, we played better.”
Red Bud falls
Entering the sectional with a losing record, the Red Bud Musketeers got a brilliant performance from junior outside hitter Morgan Cowell but still fell short in a three-game loss to the Edwards County Lions (30-8).
Cowell had a match-high 26 kills, including nine each in the final two games, but it was the play of Grace Thomason and Maria Schmittler which proved to be too much in the end as the Musketeers end their season at 15-19-3.
Red Bud, which used a pair of kills from Cowell to break a 23-all tie and win game one, rallied from a 23-18 deficit in game two and had four match points later in the game. But the Lions rallied behind its huge front line to tie the game at 29.
Finally an ace by Karis Horton and a block by Sara Mewes put Edwards County over the top and forced a third and decisive third game.
“Red Bud surprised me with its level of play,” Lions coach Nixie Hnetkovsky said. “We got some big plays from Sara (Mewes) and our big hitter (Karis) Hortin is tough to defend because of her hitting motion. Give those girls (Red Bud) credit. They played hard all night.”
“We just couldn’t quite get that last point in the second game, We were so close on a couple of them,” Red Bud coach Erin Legendre said. “We had that little lull right there in the middle of the last game, but we kept battling until the end. I was proud of our effort.”