A uniform violation spotted Althoff an early 1-0 lead, but the O’Fallon Panthers used a seven-point service run by Bryce Backhus and a strong performance by Luke Meidel to defeat the Crusaders 25-22, 25-15 in the Belleville East boys volleyball regional.
The win gave O’Fallon its fifth-straight regional championship.
Meidel helped the Panthers (26-8-2) set the tone early. After combining with Justin Hovick for back-to-back kills, Meidel added a block and a second kill, all during the service run by Backhus.
Austin Ames then added a three-point service run for O’Fallon, which built an early 11-2 lead before Althoff (16-10) recovered.
“We were able to get out to a big lead early, but we didn’t put them away in the first game. I thought we played much more consistent in the second game,” O’Fallon coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “Luke (Meidel) is just so steady, and nothing ever seems to get to him on the volleyball court. He’s a very calm influence for our younger players.”
The win lifts O’Fallon into the Edwardsville sectional Friday where it will take on the host school at 6 p.m. Edwardsville, which owns a pair of wins over O’Fallon this season, defeated Belleville West 25-22, 25-21 to win the Granite City regional Wednesday.
Althoff, trailing by as many as nine points, used the hitting attack of Jacob Gall and Royce Payne along with a pair of four-point service runs by Henry Jansen and Connor Fleming to get back in the game. A kill by Payne gave Althoff its second lead of the night — 16-15 — before O’Fallon took the lead for good. A four-point service run by Ryan Nelson put the Panthers in control, and when Ames scored on a kill, the Panthers were a game away from the regional title.
Althoff coach Joe Murray said the slow start was a key in the match.
“I really think after beating (Belleville) East last night (Tuesday) we had a bit of a letdown and fell behind by a wide margin early,” Murray said. “I was very proud of how we fought back and gave ourselves chance in the first game. We just fell short tonight.”
Meidel finished with 13 kills.