STE. GENEVIEVE – A series of hitting errors put the Ste. Genevieve volleyball team in a tough situation Monday night, falling one set down to host Valle Catholic in a loud, cozy gymnasium.
But the Dragons remained calm with the front row delivering huge plays near the conclusion of game 2, and continued their stellar second half of the season with an 18-25, 25-23, 25-23 victory.
Emma Basler totaled 13 kills after connecting on her first four swings at the net. Riley Meyer compiled seven kills, three blocks and 12 assists.
Ste. Genevieve (19-6) collected its ninth consecutive win and 12th in 13 matches. That stretch includes a St. Clair tournament title from this past weekend.
The latest triumph would not happen easily, however, as the feisty Lady Warriors turned away five potential match points after trailing 24-18 in the final set.
“Valle really pushed us hard,” Ste. Genevieve coach Jessica Hess said. I could tell that some of my girls were getting a little tired, so I had to use other hitters toward the end of the game. But they played well and fought the entire time.”
Susan Roth had a match-high 14 kills and sophomore Hannah Bahr produced seven kills with 23 digs for Valle Catholic (16-8-1), which threatened to prevail in straight sets.
Bahr served one of her four aces on the night just before restoring a Lady Warriors’ 22-19 advantage in game 2 by tipping neatly past a double block.
Ste. Genevieve countered when Meyer spiked a back-set from Jessica Propst, and followed with a stuff from Basler before pulling even on a Valle hitting error.
The Dragons moved ahead 24-23 when senior Whitney Burr landed a kill, and claimed the ensuing rally off a similar free ball that was sent long from the Valle side.
“We’ve been playing really well as a team,” Ste. Genevieve libero Mariah Ritter said. “We have been communicating and transitioning better, and it’s paying off.”
The Lady Warriors held two small leads early in the decisive set, and surged back to a 14-14 deadlock after losing back-to-back points on hitting mistakes.
Ste. Genevieve would win several defensive battles down the stretch with a balance of timely blocking and digging. Ritter frequently shined with 26 digs and 38 serve receptions.
Basler ended a spirited exchange with a left-side kill, and Katie Palmer hammered another off a Ritter dig near the floor. Tess Bauman went cross-court to push the Dragons to the precipice of victory.
“This rivalry gets everybody pumped up,” said Palmer, who added five kills and four blocks. “We were down at the beginning of the season and not playing like we could. But we have recently gotten it back and are carrying it into this week.”
Valle Catholic surged back with a 5-0 run by keeping plays alive, and pulled to within 24-23 after Ste. Genevieve mishandled the ball twice and touched the net on its own attack.
The Lady Warriors received a free ball and set their leading hitter with a chance to tie, but Roth sliced her attempt to terminate down the line.
“All year we’ve been going three sets, and actually, this was the first time we’ve lost a 3-set match,” Valle Catholic coach Nancy Fischer said. “It was just a good match. It could have gone either way.”
Power was on display from the opening serve as each team established its blocking presence. Ste. Genevieve held leads of 9-6 and 12-9 in the first set.
Valle remained aggressive to eventually take control. Madeleine Drury scored on her team’s sixth straight attack as the Dragons’ back row stood its ground, then spiked again for a 16-16 tie.
“Our blocking from the beginning of the season to now has definitely improved,” Hess said. “It’s something that we struggled with, and tonight we got quite a few blocks out there. They had several against us, too, and I also give them credit.”
The Lady Warriors grabbed a defensive edge, and won four straight rallies on missed attacks. A 1-armed save by Coco Kertz preceded a Bahr kill, and Riley Wolk capped the game with authority.
Wolk totaled six blocks and five kills while Taylor Siebert tallied 12 points, 10 digs and 10 assists for the Lady Warriors, who need a victory tonight over Kingston to claim the MAAA Small-School title outright.
Kertz ended with 15 digs and Megan Abt had 15 receptions while matching Ally Doza with nine digs. Cassandra Moulton dished out 19 assists to lead the home team.
Ste. Genevieve remains in contention for the top seed in MAAA tournament, and must beat Central in Park Hills to secure a share of the Large-School championship.
Hannah Giesler made 16 digs and Propst added 12 assists for the Dragons.