They had three or four girls who were tall and athletic and seemed to have no trouble whatsoever pounding the ball down on the other side of the net . . . and in bounds.
But after the first set, the intimidation factor had mostly worn off, and Massac County had taken a hard fought 25-23 victory.
The three-set match was almost equally split, but unfortunately the last half was almost all Mascoutah.
Massac took the first set 25-23, dropped the second set 22-25 and dropped the rubber match 21-25.
The Lady Patriots may have put the Lady Indians back on their heels a little in the first set as they scratched and clawed their way to the 25-23 win. Some strong serving by Rachael Leek and a handful of kills by Christina Whitthorne propelled the Lady Patriots to the lead, and more than halfway through the second set, it seemed the girls were on the verge of sending Mascoutah home.
Trailing 19-15, the Lady Indians rallied around their big hitting trio of Megan Lindsey, Liza Gober and Amanda Jung and scored five unanswered points to take a 20-19 lead before Leek tied it at 20 all. But the big hitters of Mascoutah powered up the next four points, and Lindsey ended the second set with a booming kill.
The third set was just as good as Mascoutah would pull away by three or four points before Massac would rally back. Believe me when I say that some of the digs that Massac made were unbelievable. Granted I’m no veteran observer, but Mascoutah’s “big three” hitters hit the ball as consistently hard as I’ve seen this year, and on a whole lot of them, there was no returning the ball. Lady Patriots Josie Garduno, Jordan Willmes and Whitthorne all had digs that were almost impossible.
In the end, it came down to firepower and Mascoutah just had too much. MCHS coach Zach Miller echoed that sentiment.
“We knew we didn’t want to go three games with them. It just seemed like their hitting kept getting better as the game went on,” he said. “Even with our double blocks they just had a bit of height and jump advantage. You can slow them down for a while, but in a three-set match, their hitting overcame our defense by a little bit.”
It all may have been a moot point, however, as the winner had to do battle with powerhouse Breese Central on Thursday.
The Lady Cougars dispatched of Mascoutah with machine like precision by a straight set score of 25-16 and 25-16. Breese then ended Rochester’s season in the state quarterfinals at Effingham on Saturday. They will tangle with Wheaton St. Francis on Friday in semi-final action.
The Lady Patriots’ fabulous season ended at 30-6 and a regional championship.