Lady Panthers Volleyball take first in division at Metro East Classic tourney

BY COLTEN STEELE
WEEKLY REPORTER

volleyball - generic RESIZEDO’FALLON – The O’Fallon Panthers volleyball team won Tuesday’s home conference match against Collinsville, sweeping both sets 2-0. Before the game was played, there was a moment of silence for Collinsville student, Tray Turner, who passed away the week prior after suffering from severe injuries after a fall.

“Previous to the match starting, we offered a card with a flower and a moment of silence to Collinsville in memory of the student they lost the week before,” said Coach Melissa Massey.

The ladies beat the Kahoks in set one 25-13 and 25-21 in set two.

“The girls played focused and poised. I was impressed with our players in that they were ready to play once that whistle blew,” said Massey.

Senior Cassie Reno led the Panthers with nine kills and senior Imani Williamson was right behind her with five kills of her own. Junior Kaity Mueller led the team in total digs for the sets with ten total. Senior Ali Fournie led the team in assists with 16, and Mackenzie Koester also helped the team in assists with seven. The Panthers record would end up being 16-3 overall after their win against Collinsville.

The Lady Panthers would then host non-conference opponent Quincy on Wednesday.

The ladies swept their opponents winning both sets by a score of 25-23 and 25-18.

“Quincy is always a strong program and this year is no different. I was very proud of the girls battling like that knowing we would see a good amount of competition going into the weekend,” Massey said.

Seniors Imani Williamson and Cassie Reno and sophomore Kenzie Simmers led the Panthers with six kills a piece. Senior Ali Fournie and sophomore Lauren Lepere led the team in digs with five each. Koester and Fournie each helped their team tremendously in assists with 11(Koester) and 14(Fournie).

The Panthers have been working with different lineups and trying to prepare themselves for anything that can happen in the postseason.

“I think when we work with a bunch of lineups, we can create some friction or create an atmosphere for the girls to be ready, focused, and prepared for just about anything. Going into the postseason, you never know what is going to happen and I want the girls to be able to adjust and deal with adversity. We have quite a bit of depth on our bench so we are just trying to see what works best,” Massey said.

The Lady Panthers kept up a busy work week as they played in the Metro-East Classic Tournament this past weekend. The ladies took first place in the silver division, with a record of 4-1 on the weekend.

The Panthers started off the tournament with a loss against Ursuline Academy. The ladies lost both sets by a score of 17-25 and 20-25. This would end up being the ladies only loss of the tournament as they would go on to win the next three and finish 4-1.

The O’Fallon Panthers swept both sets against Champaign Centennial 25-18 and 25-21.

The girls would then move on to the second round of the tournament to face Belleville West in what was a highly competitive matchup. The matches ended up going to three sets, as they each split the first two sets. The Panthers won the first set 25-20, but fell to the Maroons in the second set 16-25. Then the ladies ended up winning in the last set 25-21 to take the victory in the series.

The Panthers took another win against Incarnate Word Academy sweeping both sets 25-18, and 25-19 for their third win of the day, and would be en route to play Normal Community for first place in the silver division. The girls dominated in the first set 25-14, and played with the same mentality in the final game of the tournament, winning the second set 25-22.

“Normal Community beat us last year in the Sectional Final and then placed third at the State tournament. They are an incredible program and we handled them in two sets. It was nice to see them now because we may end up seeing them in the postseason,” said Massey.

The girls finished in first place overall in the silver division and went 4-1 with wins against Champaign Centennial, Belleville West, Incarnate Word Academy, and Normal Community.

Their overall record currently sits at 21-4, and the ladies are currently ranked 15th in the State.