Volleyball teams prepping for postseason

Gibault’s Courtney Schutt pounds the ball over the net toward a pair of Belleville West forwards in the Oct. 2 match at home. (Alan Dooley photo)

With just two weeks to go in regular season play, volleyball teams across the area are wrapping up their seasons and looking ahead to the start of regional play.

The Gibault Hawks volleyball team won an impressive three-game match at home against Belleville West last Thursday before traveling to the Belleville East Metro Tournament Oct. 4-5.

They played five games, defeating Incarnate Word Academy, Belleville West and Normal, and losing to Breese Central and Belleville East, to take seventh in the tourney and to improve to 17-7.

“We’ve had matches in which one or two players really performed, but tonight (against Belleville West) all of them played together the best they have all season,” Gibault coach Heather Ebert said. “We came to play and played our game.”

Gibault hosted Mater Dei Tuesday and travel to Waterloo Thursday for the annual Dig Pink breast cancer fundraiser.

The Columbia Eagles recovered from a three-game skid last week, losing tough matches to Breese Central, Mater Dei and Althoff, and are back to their winning ways after notching victories against Parkway South, O’Fallon and Mount Pulaski.

“Currently we have only lost to Breese Central in our conference so we are looking forward to the remainder of our conference games and hoping to place second in our conference,” said Eagles head coach Kelly Landgraf. “Our conference games always provide great competition and a super fun competitive atmosphere.”

The team has dealt with the season-ending injury to Kendall Roessler thanks to the tough play of sophomore Claire Foster, and have gotten consistency and leadership from Megan Huffman, the only returning player from last year’s team.

“We have had to make changes due to injuries several times and it seems we have settled into some consistency,” Landgraf said.

She also credits her girls with working to improve their on-court communication and leadership.

“We are a very young team and I think this is something that has improved quite a bit from the beginning of the season but it is the main reason of our court breakdowns,” she said.

The Eagles were 19-5 heading into Tuesday’s game against Red Bud.

Valmeyer is on a roll, with Jenny Kohnz’s girls winning seven of their last eight games.

“I have such a great group of girls this year,” Kohnz said.  “They get along well with one another and they want each other to all do well.  I think that has been the key to our success.”

The Pirates, 17-6 on the season, will play at New Athens Wednesday, in a must-win conference game.

“We are anticipating playing New Athens on Wednesday.  They are one of the other top teams in our conference. We played them already and won, but it was three close games.

“New Athens is in our regional as well, so we need to be able to beat them three times this year to advance and to win the conference title. New Athens is a good team with a well balanced offense.”

Juniors Miranda Kaufmann and Morgan Redohl are having standout seasons, according to Kohnz, as well as McKenzi Redohl and Tiffani Brewer.

And the freshman trio of Jordyn Killy, Savannah Williams and Blair Brady round out the team.

After playing New Athens Wednesday, the Pirates will play at Steeleville Thursday and again Monday.

Waterloo posted a two-game victory last week against Jersey Community High School, improving to 9-6 on the season and 6-0 in conference play.

“We do start off the season on the heavy side of competition. However, our team has finally began the road to their potential,” said head coach Angie Crawford. “As I said in our preseason… this team has the ability to be extremely successful this season. We have picked up our game and are playing hard. The girls are playing more confident in their roles and the team chemistry has truly evolved.”

The team’s success is due in large part to the efforts of team leaders Mia Reed, Gina Kowalcyzk and Kelli Kosydor, along with defensive leaders Kelli Kosydor, Kylie Albecht and Mallory Scharf, according to Crawford, as well as setters Emelia Modglin and Kelsey Hamann, who are doing an “exceptional job.”

The Bulldogs continued conference play Tuesday against Civic Memorial and will host Gibault Thursday for the annual Dig Pink game.

The young Dupo Tigers team has had their struggles during their 4-11 season, but the future looks bright to head coach Brooke Toenjes.

“There have been some disappointing games, but we’ve also had some really great moments,” Toenjes said. “I believe we’re meeting our goal of being able to compete with teams, the wins just aren’t falling into place. Individually, and as a team, the girls are making big strides.”

Most of the Tigers’ starters are freshmen and sophomores who Toenjes has seen gain important experience on the court this season.

“They’re committed to improving themselves and have the right mindset,” she said.

Among her standouts is sophomore outside hitter and team captain Rachael Donald, who earned All Tournament awards at the Marissa and Sparta tournaments.

“She does a great job of keeping the team together and is always a solid player out on the court.”

Additionally, sophomore libero Caitlyn Brizzi and senior setter Sissy Brown have stepped up to become indispensable parts of the team.

Dupo traveled to Lebanon Tuesday.

Regional volleyball play begins Oct. 28.

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