After breaking her back months earlier, Lauren Borik could only sit and watch as the Althoff Crusaders won the Class 3A state volleyball state title last fall.
On Wednesday, Borik helped Althoff move another step closer toward defending that state title.
An outside hitter, Borik had seven kills while juniors Karinna Gall and Katie Wemhoener combined fior 18 kills as Althoff defeated rival Mater Dei 25-16, 25-22 in the title match of the Class 3A Mascoutah Volleyball Sectional.
Althoff (35-4), which dropped a 25-20, 25-18 match to the Knights (25-13) three weeks ago, used the play of the all-state Gall to break away to win the first game. But the second game of the match, played before large crowd at Mascoutah High School, was a battle until the end as two of the top programs in the state played a game that featured many long rallies.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
It wasn’t until a block by Crusaders junior Mary Wessel on match point that first year coach Tony Miner and his team could celebrate the emotional win.
“It’s like this almost every year,’’ Miner responded when asked about playing Mater Dei in the sectiional. “It’s just a shame that our two programs have to meet so early in the postseason. That (Mater Dei) is a tremendous team and they have a great program.
“We were on tonight. They beat us three weeks ago and this team was determined not to let it happen again. As a coach, you can always find things your team can do better. But we played very well tonight. It was one of our best matches of the year.’’
The win extends the Crusaders’ winning streak to 10 and moves them into the (Bethalto) Civic Memorial Super-Sectional on Friday at 7 p.m. Althoff will take on Mount Zion, which defeated Taylorville 18-25, 25-15, 25-13 to win the Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin Sectional on Wednesday.
Mater Dei, getting strong play from senior Carlee Wise and freshmen Tori Mohesky and Riley Kkleber, took its biggest lead of the night, 12-10, in the opening game. But a kill on the outside by Borik followed by a hitting error with Wessel serving, tied the game at 12.
The game remained close, but with her team holding a 18-15 lead, Gall stepped to the service line and didn’t leave until her team had a 24-15 advantage.
In the running for national sophomore of the year last season, the 6-foot-1 Gall had a tip, a pair of aces and a kill from the back row during the run as the Crusaders grabbed the first game.
“Gall is Gall. We wanted to contain her and I thought we did a good job. It’s on the outside where they hurt us,’’ Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers said. “We prepared as well as we could have for this match. But this was an Althoff team we haven’t seen for a while. They played very well.
“I’m very proud of my team.. The girls fought until the end. We wanted to get up north (the state tournament) but it seems like in the past couple of years that they (Althoff) have blocked us.’’
The second game was nip and tuck early. Three long rallies, two of which were won by the Crusaders, keyed the early play. A kill by Grace Strieker and a tip by Borik helped the Crusaders take a 12-10 lead.
Gall, who had 11 kills, and Wemhoener had kills later as the lead reached five points before Mater Dei cut the lead to 23-22.
Borik then added her seventh kill and Wessel followed with the match winning point.
“I’m very happy. We played very well tonight,’’ Borik said. “It was tough not being able to play last year. I’m just happy to be back.’’
Wessel added 15 assists for Althoff.