With her team one win away from a state tournament trip, memories of her own high school playoff career are coming back for Althoff Crusaders volleyball coach Sara Thomas Dietrich.
Althoff finished third at the Class AA state tournament when Dietrich was a sophomore in 2001, then finished fourth at state in 2003 her senior year.
“It was always us and Belleville West in the regional championship,” said Dietrich, whose 18-17 team meets Shelbyville (36-3) at the Class 2A Fairfield Super-Sectional at 1 p.m. Saturday. “As soon as we got out of the regional, which always seemed to be the toughest in those days, it almost seemed like it would be easier.”
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Dietrich went on to have an outstanding playing career at Missouri State, but never forgot her high school volleyball thrills. They are flooding back over her again after the Crusaders provided Dietrich with her second regional title and first sectional titles as a coach.
“This feels great,” she said. “It’s been 12 years since 2003 and that still feels like yesterday. I want that for my girls, especially my seniors. To win a sectional and now have state within our grasp, it’s overwhelming. They want more and they are determined.”
Dietrich’s team had more than its share of losses this season playing a mostly 3A and 4A schedule, the same as in past years. That helped big time once the Crusaders entered the playoffs and they cruised past Edwards County and Anna-Jonesboro.
“That’s why I kept the schedule that we have,” Dietrich said. “We are 18-17, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s what have you done to prepare yourself and to get hot at the right time.”
Winning volleyball regionals and sectionals used to be a November tradition at Althoff, which made six of the nine state tournament trips in school history from 1999 to 2007.
The Crusaders had one second-place finish (1999), two thirds (2001, 2004) and two fourths (2003, 2007). Shelbyville has won three straight sectional titles.
Althoff players to watch: Alanna Bramwell (156 kills, 38 blocks); Emily Myatt (197 kills); Louise Comerford (95 kills, 5.82 assists per match); Katie Allard (345 digs); Aliyah Gillespie (29 aces).
Mascoutah won its first sectional title since 1981 Thursday in a wild three-set victory over Columbia. After celebrating with his players Thursday night, Gober made the 10-hour drive to to watch his daughter, Lexi Gober, play volleyball in Greenville, S.C., for South Carolina Upstate.
“It’s crazy, but it’s Senior Night for my daughter,” said Gober, who will turn around and drive back to Illinois for the Indians’ 1 p.m. Wood River Super-Sectional game Saturday against Quincy Notre Dame (34-4).
Gober said the Indians (32-7), who have already advanced further than any team in school history, were remarkably composed and prepared for Columbia on Thursday.
“They executed well,” said Gober, the former head volleyball coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “I called one timeout and I started to tell the girls what to do, what to set up on the board, and they looked me and said ‘Coach, we’ve got it. We already know, she’s going to slide, this one’s going to do this ... they knew.
“I was really impressed with the focus on our side. That’s what you do, you coach in practice and let the athletes play.”
Quincy Notre Dame got 21 kills, 19 digs and four blocks from Riley Hummert on Thursday in its sectional title victory over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. The Raiders won the 2011 Class 2A state championship.
Mascoutah players to watch: Megan Lindsay (262 kills, 273 digs); Amanda Jung (189 kills, 242 digs); Tieghan Morio (175 kills; Katirah Johnson (149 kills, 129 blocks); Maddie Nekola (46 aces); Kamrynn Voyppick (48 aces).
The Valmeyer Pirates are proud to be one of only three metro-east teams still standing in the state playoffs. The Pirates (25-11) are one win away from the second state tourney trip in school history, ready to take on Clay City (29-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Class 1A Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran Super-Sectional.
Valmeyer finished fourth at the 2012 Class 1A state tournament. Clay City is making its first super-sectional appearance.
Valmeyer players to watch: April Thomason (233 kills, 99 blocks); Jordyn Killy (218 kills, 42 blocks); Sam Seidel (150 kills, 47 aces, 184 digs); Savannah Williams (111 kills, 45 aces, 248 digs); Blair Brady (109 kills, 37 aces, 35 blocks); Cierra Goldschmidt (299 digs).