The Lady Panther volleyball squad took to the court in Edwardsville for their first taste of tournament play this weekend. OTHS competed against Morton, Carlinville, Mascoutah, Eureka, and Edwardsville to capture the third place title in the Edwardsville Tiger Classic.
O’Fallon started the tournament out strong with group wins over Morton, Carlinville, and Mascoutah.
In the first set of the tournament, the Panthers battled a tough Morton team in a close two game match. Eventually defeating Morton 25-19, and 25-18.
The second match wasn’t quite as close for the 6-1 OTHS team. Two quick games against Carlinville ended in a 25-17, and 25-9 victory for the Panthers.
Preparing for their early group matches was difficult for the Panther team.
“Every team we played was so different,” said head coach Melissa Massey. “No two teams were really comparable at all. They all play different volleyball and we had little idea what to expect from each match.”
The first big test of the tournament for OTHS came during the early morning match on Saturday against Mascoutah.
Game one of the set was close battle resulting in a two point victory for O’Fallon, 25-23. O’Fallon locked in for the second game and managed to clinch a 25-17 win.
“We blocked very well and came together as a team against Mascoutah,” said Massey.
O’Fallon suffered their first defeat of the season against the Eureka Wildcats in the semi-final round. Despite solid defense, the Panthers were unable to keep up with the Wildcats offense and strong hitters.
“I’d like to say it was because we were fatigued, but we need to come ready to play no matter what,” said Massey. “We started to adjust as the game went on but we couldn’t catch up. It was a great experience for us to face the team who went on to win.”
In the third place match, O’Fallon faced off against host team Edwardsville Tigers. In an exhausted battle, the Panthers were able to squeeze out a big victory against an always tough rival Tiger team.
“Neither team played their best,” said Massey. “But I was very impressed with the girl’s ability to keep playing and get the win.”
Senior Anna Strake and junior Mackenzie Koester had stand out weekends, earning spots on the All-Tournament Team.
Getting the opportunity to play in the Edwardsville Tiger Classic was a big deal for Massey’s Panther squad.
“We are really trying to step it up this year. Getting to play in a tournament where you never know what to expect really helps us raise the level of our competition and prepare for the rest of the season. The girls did a great job of adjusting and they did everything I asked for. It was a really fun tournament,” said Massey.