Althoff senior Jacob Gall had a match-high 16 kills, and senior Royce Payne made several key plays late in game three as the Crusaders defeated Belleville East 25-21, 20-25, 25-20 on Tuesday at the Belleville East boys volleyball regional.
A 6-foot-5 middle blocker, Gall broke a 17-all tie with a kill down the left side and followed with three straight service points as Althoff took command late in the final game. When Payne added a kill minutes later, Althoff (16-9) was in the regional title match.
“I was a little nervous after we lost the second game. But I have a lot of confidence in my teammates, and I knew that if we stuck together that we would be just fine,” Gall said. “It was just a matter of playing each point as hard as we could. We did it as a team tonight.”
The win vaults sixth-seeded Althoff into the regional title match Wednesday, where it will take on second-seeded O’Fallon at 6 p.m.
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Althoff broke open a close first game with a four-point run as seniors Jake Eversman and Henry Jansen combined for two kills and a pair of blocks. In game two, East seniors Rico Walker, Braden Shelley and Andrew O’Bryan helped the Lancers gain momentum on a pair of kills by Walker.
After a Crusaders hitting error and a kill by Walker, the match was extended to a third and final game.
“I was a little nervous. But I had confidence in my team,” Althoff coach Joe Murray said. “We played great defense tonight. That was the difference in the match.”
But in the end, Althoff just had a little too much strength for the Lancers up front.
“It was another epic battle between two very good volleyball teams,” Lancers coach Joe Nesbit said. “I’m disappointed, but I’m very proud of my team.”
O’Fallon 25-15, Gibault 17-10
Senior Luke Meidel had 10 kills to lift the Panthers into the regional finals.
Gibault stayed with O’Fallon early in the first game before Meidel and his teammates began to find the range.
“I think we may have been a little nervous early with this being the first game of the postseason and all,” O’Fallon coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “Plus, we have several players who have never played in a postseason game before. It was new to them. Once we settled down and got the first game, we were fine.”
Granite City regional
Edwardsville and Belleville West moved into the title match of the Granite City Regional on Tuesday. Edwardsville defeated Granite City 25-14, 25-7, while Belleville West defeated Metro East Lutheran 25-21, 29-27.