The OTHS boys’ volleyball team got a little taste of what is to come in the post-season last weekend in the Lafayette Invitational tournament.
O’Fallon went 3-1-1 and placed fifth out of sixteen teams at the tournament, losing only to St Louis University High School in a close two game set. It was the second time that SLUH got the better of the Panthers this season. Just one week earlier the Panthers suffered a 14-25, 15-25 loss to SLUH but, this time the match had a much closer score line of 21-25, 18-25.
“We didn’t play very well the first time we played so it was nice to go out there and show that we could compete with them. Even though we did not win we played much better and that was all I could ask from them,” said varsity head coach Katelyn Haggarty.
Before losing to SLUH the Panther squad split, 24-26, 25-19 with a tough Marquette team and used the momentum from their opening two matches to defea O’Fallon Christian, De Smet, and Francis Howell. St. Louis University High went on to be defeated by host Lafayette in the championship match.
Overall Coach Hagarty was pleased with her team’s composure against a loaded group of competitors.
“They wanted to do well. Playing against good competition can make you play better and that’s what the team did,” said Hagarty. “Our defense was phenomenal and we showed that we are a complete team.”
Both senior Mike Hovick and junior Libero Ryan Nelson were instrumental in the Panther’s play over the weekend.
Earlier in the week the Panther’s collected an important conference win over the Edwardsville Tigers. The win not only helped O’Fallon’s conference standing but, also provided an extra boost in confidence before the Lafayette Invitational. O’Fallon defeated the Tigers, 26-24, 22-25, 25-19 and are currently on top of the Southwestern Conference.
Of course, that could very well change this week as the Panthers are set to face off with rival SWC powerhouse Belleville West. So far this season West’s only conference loss was to O’Fallon and the two teams are sure to both be bringing their A game.
This weekend the Panthers will be bringing tournament play to home their home court in the OTHS Invitational. The invite will include a strong mix of local and non-local teams. The SWC will be well represented with Belleville East, Belleville West, and Edwardsville. Non-conference teams competing in the Panther Dome this weekend are Althoff, Sandburg, Oakville, Francis Howell, Seckman, Duchesne, and Chesterton High School from Indiana.
The tournament will kick off on Friday evening with pool play and will continue into bracket play on Saturday. O’Fallon’s pool this year includes Seckman and Oakville.
“There a lot of really good teams and it will be good to see how some of the other conference teams do,” said Hagarty. “With the regional tournament just a week away this weekend could provide us with a big momentum boost. We have some new competition we have not seen before. I’m excited for it.”