High School Sports

Mascoutah turns out the lights on Columbia for second straight year

When they are talking volleyball at the Juicy Peanut Bar & Grill in November, that’s usually a great thing for the Mascoutah Indians.

Mascoutah has the entire town talking volleyball once again after stunning previously unbeaten Columbia 25-20, 25-22 on Tuesday to beat the Eagles in the Class 3A sectional championship match for the second straight year.

“That’s a great team,” said Mascoutah coach Todd Gober, whose 29-8 squad advanced to the Class 3A Effingham Super-Sectional and will face Taylorville at 6 p.m. Saturday. “We couldn’t play a good match, we had to play a great match to beat that team. I thought we had a great effort tonight. We played smart, we minimized our errors, we were efficient with the ball.

“My hat’s off to Columbia because that team is the most balanced and fastest attacking team that we’ve seen. That was a tremendous win.”

Key performers

Both sets were tied late, 19-19 in the first and 21-21 in the second. Kills by Lacey Albers and Tieghan Morio got the Indians some breathing room for a 23-21 lead trying to close out the match and after a Columbia error, Morio delivered a forceful match point that sent fans streaming into the court.

Morio missed the previous match with Columbia (36-1), a two-set loss on Sept. 10 at the Mascoutah Tournament, because she was on a softball recruiting trip to Ball State.

Morio made the Eagles pay this time with 11 kills while Lacey Albers added seven kills and Katirah had four. Setter Kamrynn Voypick, who didn’t play setter Tuesday because of a finger injury, returned to that role Thursday and had 27 assists.

“With everyone here tonight, it was on,” said Morio, who committed to Ball State for softball but now wants to keep her volleyball season going as long as possible. “We clicked. It means everything and with the town supporting us, it’s so fun to do.

“It’s really great.”

Johnson, who was part of Mascoutah’s intense block defense on Tuesday, pumped her team up with several key points that brought the large Indians’ cheering section to its feet.

“Playing them tonight really motivated us to go out there and fight and get the dub (W),” Johnson said.

Columbia had lost only two sets all season during its entire 36-match winning streak. The last team to beat Columbia was Mascoutah in the 2015 sectional final.

“Lots of tears,” Columbia coach Kelly Landgraf said as her players, many of them sobbing, streamed out of the locker room. “We’re all going to be sad, but we’ve had a nice run. We’ve had 36 games where we were consistently great and any team that can be consistently great for 36 games, I think that says a lot.”

While some had the Eagles penciled in to the super-sectional and maybe beyond, the Indians rewrote that script and now have a shot at their second straight state tournament appearance.

Mascoutah finished third at the 3A state tourney last November.

“It was nice because we had Tieghan back this time,” Gober said. “The first time we played them we didn’t have Tieghan and that made a difference, but in playoffs everything’s different. It’s a lot of emotions and its a real big momentum game.”

Down 10-4 early in the second set, the Eagles flashed the firepower that made them one of the state’s top teams. They began riding kills from Jordan Hausmann, Colene Hamilton and Kelly Metter and forced the Indians into a 21-21 tie.

“Every time they’d make a run we’d come back with a big kill to stop them from taking that lead and pushing over the top,” Gober said. “That was big for us.”

Metter had eight kills for Columbia while Hausmann had seven and Hamilton had six. Gober said a big part of the defensive game plan was to serve well and try to keep the ball away from Hamilton, a Division I sand volleyball recruit for Central Arkansas.

“It doesn’t mean we could stop it, but at least we knew what to expect,” Gober said. “You’ve still got to execute. I thought our block did tremendous. I thought we were really keying on Colene, we knew we had to.”

Landgraf credited Mascoutah for a strong effort.

“Their defense was lights out,” she said. “Defensively, I thought that they did a great job picking up everything that we threw at them. They just kind of seemed to be everywhere tonight. Offensively we struggled to get over the top of their block and that’s the first time that that’s happened all year.

“I also thought their outsides (hitters) did a great job keeping us on their toes. They were just able to mix it up pretty well.”

End of the line for Valmeyer Pirates

Valmeyer’s state tourney hopes were ended with a 25-19, 25-20 to Norris City-Omaha Enfield in the championship match of the Class 1A Crab Orchard Sectional. Valmeyer finished the season 21-15.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders