Solid effort helps Collinsville in sweep of Belleville West
October 24, 2012By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School
O’FALLON, Ill. • It was a night where just about everything went right for the Collinsville girls volleyball team.
The third-seeded Kahoks put together a pair of complete games in a 25-17, 25-14 sweep of No. 2 seed Belleville East in a Class 4A O’Fallon Regional semifinal match Tuesday at the Panther Dome.
“I thought the girls really came out and had a good combined effort,” Collinsville coach Tracy Plagemann said. “I thought our serve-receive was really good, which allowed us to do a lot of things up front. I think that was a big key to our game tonight.”
With the win, Collinsville (23-11) will face No. 1 seed O’Fallon (31-6) for the regional championship at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Panther Dome.
“They are a handful,” Plagemann said. “Last time, we were really close with them, so I hope that we come out again and play that tough ball. The key for us will be serve-receive again.”
Belleville West, which dropped a three-set match to Collinsville just 12 days ago, finished the season 19-17.
“I was expecting it to be a battle again tonight, and they played a lot better than they did last time,” Maroons coach Austin Betz said of the Kahoks. “I was really impressed with them. The thing they did really well tonight that gave them the edge was they passed well, and their middles were outstanding. We couldn’t stop them.”
The Maroons never had a run of more than two points until they got three straight when the Kahoks reached match point. By then, it was way too late.
“We’ve talked all season about consistency,” Plagemann said. “This team has worked really hard on trying to be smart, and a lot of the things we’ve done is if we miss one (point), let’s try to get the next two.”
The Kahoks received strong performances from everybody that appeared on the court Tuesday, but middle hitters Katie McCarthy and Cathy Schreiber were especially exceptional.
A 5-foot-10 senior, McCarthy had a match-high 10 blocks, including seven in the Game 1 victory.
“She started moving the ball around, and I think the variety she brings allows her to be successful,” Plagemann said. “She’s not the biggest middle out here in the Southwestern Conference, but I think she probably has the best hitting percentage.”
Schreiber, a 6-3 junior, tallied eight kills, including seven in the Game 2 win.
“She provides a really great, solid presence at the front row,” Plagemann said. “She blocks really well, and she came through at the end and made some really good kills in some key spots.”
Sophomore middle hitter Toni Fields had a strong match for the Maroons with seven blocks.
“I wish we could have gotten her the ball a little more -- our passing wasn’t great,” Betz said. “I’m happy to have her coming back next year.”
In Game 1, West scored the first point to grab its one and only lead before Collinsville began methodically ramping up its advantage.
Consecutive aces by senior Meg Votopaul gave the Kahoks their biggest lead to that point at 15-10 and caused Betz to burn his first timeout (West would use all four of its allotted timeouts in the two games, while Collinsville did not use one).
The lead was four when McCarthy started her surge late in Game 1.
After her kill made it 18-13, she delivered three straight kills to increase the lead to 22-15 and effectively put the first game on ice.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Rendleman -- who also had a strong match for the Kahoks -- sealed things with a kill and a game-point block.
“Sarah Rendleman came through with some solid kills at great points,” Plagemann said. “She’s been a player we’ve moved around a couple different places, and she’s stepped up this week and played really great.”
In Game 2, West had leads of 3-2 and 4-3, but that would be it, as Collinsville came up with three crucial stretches.
The first one -- which included two more aces by Votopaul -- turned the 4-3 West lead into an 8-4 Collinsville lead.
The Maroons trimmed the lead to three, but the Kahoks went on an 8-2 run to open up a 19-10 advantage. McCarthy had a block and two kills during that surge.
The final nail in West’s coffin was personally delivered by Schreiber, who registered five consecutive kills to give Collinsville an insurmountable 24-11 lead.
The Maroons finally got three straight points, but the Kahoks closed things out on a kill by Rendleman.