This was the case for the Massac Lady Patriot volleyball team at Saturday’s River-to-River Conference preview tournament in Herrin.
Despite starting the day with an uneasy and unnerving performance against the Sparta Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Pats were able to respond by winning four straight games to win the silver division with a record of 4-1.
As mentioned before, it was an unusual start to the day as the Lady Patriots’ passing struggled to find the setter in their first match.
Although Massac held a considerable lead, 22-14, in the first set, Sparta did not quit and rattled off six straight service points to narrow Massac’s lead.
A gutsy performance from Sparta’s Gabby Gallois was enough to make the difference as the Lady Bulldogs came back to win the first set 27-25.
The second set played out similar to the first with Sparta’s defense and serving making just enough plays to seal the deal, winning 26-24.
With little time for adjustments, the Lady Patriots faced off against West Frankfort. It didn’t take long for the Massac attackers to make quick work of the Redbirds as the Lady Patriots won 25-16, 25-15.
In the third match of pool play, Massac took on the Panthers from Pinckneyville.
After a roller coaster of a first set in which the Lady Panthers won 25-23, the tide would finally turn for the Lady Pats and would remain throughout the day.
In sets two and three, the Massac serve receive would not give up a single point to the Panthers as they went on to win the match 25-10, 15-2.
In those sets, it was Massac’s freshman Brittany McFall who served up a great game, scoring 17 points on 18/19 serving.
After pool play, Massac was placed in the silver division with the pre-season conference favorite Murphysboro Lady Red Devils and the DuQuoin Lady Indians.
Massac’s serve receive would continue their great play, leading their team to a first set win of 25-15.
In the second set, it was the Lady Patriot offense who would make the difference as seniors Karsen Smith and Kristina Henley would combine for an impressive 16 kills.
But it was Massac’s Lauren Bunting who provided the play of the game.
With Massac down 23-24 and having not served throughout the day, Bunting stepped to the service line and delivered three straight points and one diving defensive play to push the Lady Pats to victory at 26-24.
In the final match of the day, Massac would hold off a talented DuQuoin team, winning in straight sets 25-11, 25-20.
Statistical leaders for the Patriots include Dorris, 30 kills; Smith, 30 kills; Henley, 29 kills; Madison Stephens, 59 assists; McFall, 47/48 serving; Kerstie Weatherbee, 43/44 serving; Jessi Stunsun, 33/34 serving; and Jordan Willmes, 28 digs.
Massac’s McKenzie Dorris was also named to the All Tournament team.
The Lady Pats are next in action on Saturday at the 33rd annual Southern Illinois Preview tournament at Carbondale High School.