They did not make it easy on themselves, but the varsity Panther volleyball team battled through adversity all weekend to earn a second place finish in the OTHS invitational.
The host Panthers (23-7-3) faced off against the Sandburg Eagles in Saturday’s championship match. O’Fallon played the Eagles close but, were unable to get the upper hand in either game before eventually losing 25-20, 25-19.
O’Fallon’s path to the championship match was filled with plenty of close calls along the way. During Friday’s pool play the Panthers defeated both Seckman and Oakville. Against Oakville, the Panthers lost the opening game 27-26. After being within inches of taking game one, OTHS took control and defeated Oakville by a score of 25-14, 15-9.
The Southwestern Conference leading Panthers also went the distance in their matches against both Belleville West and Althoff. Much like in their game against Oakville, the Panthers dropped game one against the Belleville West Maroons. Despite playing from behind, O’Fallon High kept their composure in the final two games and won each by four points.
Although varsity Panther head coach Katelyn Hagarty would have prefered less stress-inducing wins, she was pleased with her team’s resiliency throughout the tournament.
“I’m proud of the way they played,” said Hagarty. “Absolutely we could have won a few of our matches in two games but being able to come back after losing or being down says a lot about our team. I thought we played pretty well against Sandburg. All-around, our defense and our offense, played well and it makes it hard for other teams to beat us.”
Panthers Mike Hovick and Gabe Norsigian were both named to the OTHS Invitational “All-Tournament Team”.
This week the team will travel to East St. Louis on Tuesday and Granite City on Wednesday.
While the O’Fallon Panther team is rolling through the conference and had a strong showing in their tournament, coach Hagarty and her team won’t be letting their foot off of the pedal anytime soon.
“I saw a lot of good things overall but there are plenty of things we can still improve on. We want to finish the season off strong and really eliminate errors.” said Hagarty.