The Althoff volleyball team fell one rally short of advancing to the state tournament Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders fell to Shlebyville 25-23, 20-25, 25-19 in the Class 2A Super-Sectional.
Althoff played from behind the entire match and never seemed to get over the hump except for a late surge in a game-two victory, as the Crusaders saw their season end at 17-18.
“We could never get a lead but we never quit, not once,” coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich said. “The girls kept making adjustments and kept fighting.
“Shelbyville has been here before and that is the difference,” she said. “They are a very good team, but we are a very good team and we’ll be back. I’m just glad we didn’t give up.”
Shelbyville took an 18-13 lead in the pivotal third set, but the Crusaders rallied with four consecutive points to trail by just one. Emily Myatt had two well-placed tips and a kill in the run as Althoff cut the gap to 18-17.
But the Rams took advantage of a couple of unforced errors by Althoff and a kill from Kary Langan pushed the lead to 21-17.
Another tip from Myatt made it 21-18, but that’s as close as the Crusaders would get as the Rams got three big kills from their middle hitter Maddie Holland to finish off Althoff.
“We know that they play Class 3A and 4A schools all year long and when I found out that they were back in 2A I thought we might see them,” said coach Lisa Peifer, whose team improved to 37-3 with the win. “But we knew we had to just go out and play our game and we were able to do that today.”
The Crusaders battled back from behind in the first game to take a 22-21 lead, but Shelbyville answered with three straight points to go up 24-22. A hitting error by the Rams made it 24-23, but Sydney Miller put down a kill to give game one to Shelbyville.
Althoff trailed throughout game two as well before a block by Myatt tied the game at 18-all. A service ace by Aliyah Gillespie and a kill from Myatt put the Crusaders ahead 20-18. Myatt added another kill and then served up an ace to make it 23-19, before Alanna Bramwell finished off the Rams with a kill for a 25-20 victory.
Bramwell capped off a stellar career for the Crusaders with 12 kills and several big blocks.
“You can’t replace someone like her, but having everybody back will help,” said Thomas-Dietrich, who only lose two seniors from this year’s squad.
“Now they know what post-season success feels like and they are going to want to come back,” she added. “I know they are going to work even harder in the off season because they will remember this feeling and won’t want it again.”