A huge win over the previously undefeated Belleville West has the ladies of the O’Fallon Panther volleyball team on the top of the Southwestern Conference.
Last Tuesday the Panthers took to the courts at West to face off against the Maroons.
In game one, the teams battled to an even 22-22 draw before the Panthers broke an opening in West’s defense. Three straight points by O’Fallon gave them a win and a chance to close out the match in game two.
The Panthers got off to a quick and aggressive early 7-3 lead in the second game of the set. A series of timeouts called from both Panthers and Maroon coaches breached way for Belleville West to take a lead that nearly closed out the game. Down by four, the Panthers rifled off four straight point wins to tie the game at 23 apiece. With disputed calls and a vocal crowd, the two teams fought back and forth over the next four rallies, continuing game in a deadlock at 25-25. On the Panther’s second consecutive match point, a Maroon miscue gave OTHS their third conference victory.
Head coach Melissa Massey was very pleased with the team’s resilience and control against West.
“We struggled with their outside hitters a bit,” said Massey. “Our hitters adjusted well over the course of the match and the girls found a way to win.”
Helping lead the way offensively for the Panthers was sophomore Elise Smith who had nine kills against West. Junior Imani Williamson had seven kills of her own, and junior Mackenzie Koester had six.
On defense, the Panthers got great support from senior Renae Moeller with ten digs. Behind Moeller was senior Becca Althoff with six digs.
Consistent control over their play has sparked huge success for the Panthers so far this season. Until losing to O’Fallon, Belleville West had not dropped a set all season and was 10-0.
“Something we have continued to tell the girls all season is that we may not be able to control the other team, but we can control how we play and keep our unforced errors to a minimum,” said Massey.
Last Wednesday the Panthers hosted the Granite City Warriors in a conference match. O’Fallon defeated the Warriors in 2 quick games, 25-12 and 25-14.
With two more conference wins in the books, O’Fallon holds an impressive record of 17-1 and is 3-0 in the Southwestern Conference.
This week the Panthers will travel to Collinsville on Tuesday and Quincy on Thursday. Next week the Edwardsville Tigers will be in O’Fallon for a much anticipated rematch.
“Staying focused, not getting distracted, and working hard are our focuses right now,” said Massey. “We want to do well in post season. In order to do that the girls will need to barrel down the rest of the season and stick to our game plan.”