It’s not always easy being the Class 2A volleyball team in a 4A town, but the Althoff Crusaders can claim at least one leg of the Belleville city championship series.
Althoff defeated Belleville East in three sets 25-22, 20-25, 25-16.
The Crusaders improved to just 10-13, but recent performance and Tuesday’s win at East are better indications of their competitive trend as they draw closer to the post-season, says coach Sara Thomas.
“We play a very tough schedule,” she said. “Our record normally doesn’t indicate how we are as a team, but that’s OK. I tell my girls it’s not about wins or losses, but how we play toward the end of the regular season.”
The last week, especially, has been a tough won for Althoff, who took losses to Edwardsville and Belleville West before dropping three in a row at the East Tournament over the weekend. But the team played well enough Thomas said, for her to think they can make a push in their sub-sectional tournament, which will be played at Althoff in less than three weeks.
“Each match we get better and better and I feel like it’s just at the right time,” Thomas said. “Going three with Belleville East or Belleville West, the last one can go either way. We’re not city champs, but it’s good to get at least one of those wins.”
Althoff fell behind in the first set 14-7 before Annika Beal served seven straight points aided by kills from Addie Burris, Lindsay See, and two kills from Emily Myatt that tied the game.
Myatt served an ace and had two more kills, including one from the back row, during an 8-3 Althoff run that cinched the win.
East, which fell to 7-13, had eight service errors during the first game and struggled in that department throughout the night.
“We had a lot of errors in general,” said East coach Stefanie Gaubatz. “We fell like we gave them the match, really. We didn’t make them earn many points. You’re not going to win like that.”
A 5-0 Althoff run midway through the second set put Althoff ahead 15-14, but it was the only lead the Crusaders would hold. Holly Badgley had three service points while Shelby Ridgway, Janae Mosby and Julia Moran put down kills to put the Lancers ahead for good. Ridgway closed the second set with an act to even the match.
It was big runs again that put Althoff ahead in the decisive set. Aliyah Gillespie entered the game to serve five straight points and Myatt closed out the set and match with five more to secure the win.
Myatt and Alanna Bramwell established their presence individually at different times during the match, but were a force playing on the front line together in the third set.
Bramwell had five blocks. Myatt, Burris and Louise Comerford had three each.
“(Myatt) is such a well-rounded athlete that when she and Alanna are on the team is a totally different level,” Thomas said.