Cavaliers rake Warriors for sectional crown
By Eric Becker
NASHVILLE (Nov. 9, 2017) – Even when it appeared the Wesclin Warriors were getting some traction against Carlinville in the Nashville Sectional final Wednesday night, the Cavaliers always found an answer.
In the end, Carlinville’s 25-21, 25-22 win over a gritty Trenton Wesclin team extended their season and made Fran Struble a sectional champion coach for a ninth time – the first since 2009.
“The girls didn’t let down at all,” Struble said. “We always stayed a few points ahead, they were very calm and they were very focused. They knew the game plan – what we had to do to beat them and they executed it so well.”
With Edwardsville also winning a sectional on Wednesday, the mother-daughter duo of Struble and Jami Parker could celebrate doing so for the first time in the same season since 2008.
Carlinville improved to 23-13 while Wesclin ended its wild ride as a number six seed in the subsectional through postseason, included three-game victories against Carlyle, Nashville, Hillsboro and Red Bud, at 23-14. They beat the number one, two, four and seven seeded teams to get to the sectional final.
“We went in nice and loose and just played our game,” senior Alyssa DeSpain said. “We went in thinking it was going to be a tough match and it was. We just pulled through.”
Senior Taylor Wills also thought the game featured two evenly matched teams.
“We were very similar going in, but I think just playing smart and playing together, especially knowing where the holes were and putting the ball there was key,” said Wills.
Carlinville would trail just once the entire contest – after the first serve of the match off a kill by Madison Voss. The Cavies ran off three straight points after that, including a stuff block by Anna Chew, and were never headed.
Though Wesclin tied the game 3-3, a Sydney Bates kill and two service points, including another Chew stuff kill, put the Cavies on top 6-3.
Carlinville upped its lead to 14-9 on an Emma Griffith ace serve, but the Warriors still hung tough, getting within 15-14 on a block.
A Chew kill for sideout and a service point upped the lead to 17-14. Adriann Welte’s kill and an ace serve by DeSpain made it a 19-15 lead and forced a timeout by the Warriors.
Wesclin got within 20-18 on a kill from Emily Takacs and 22-20 on a Cavie error.
But a Chew kill eventually put game one to bed at 25-21.
Game two had the Cavaliers jumping out to a 6-3 lead as Welte dug a huge kill attempt by the Warriors’ Julie Friederich. The dig went back onto the Warriors back row and they were unable to return it for an unconventional kill.
Friederich followed with a kill and service point off an Ellie Wessel kill to make it 6-5.
DeSpain had three straight points, including a block by Lexi Egelhoff, to make it 10-5. Sarah DeNeve added an ace serve and a point off a Bates kill for a 13-6 advantage.
It was 17-11 and 18-14 before the Warriors made another push, getting within 20-18 on a Voss kill.
Carlinville maintained a lead at 23-19 on a Chew kill, but the Warriors scored two straight to make it 23-21.
It was 24-22 when DeSpain put away the game-clinching kill.
Chew finished with 14 kills for the Cavies. Griffith had six points and five kills; Bates had three kills; DeSpain had five points and two kills; Wills had four points; Welte had four kills.
Bates also led the team in assists. Her knack for reading the court during high stress times, including when to hit the ball over instead of passing, is what makes her one of the best setters around the area.
“Syd is so strong in all of her skills,” Struble said. “Her thinking – her court knowledge of where the ball should go, which hitter should get it, or should I take care of that ball – is so smart. She knows where to go with the ball.”
Friederich had 10 kills and four points for Wesclin. Takacs had six kills and Voss had four points and three kills.
As for supersectionals, Struble said they will try and get information on Newton and go from there.
At Vandalia, Carlinville’s run through postseason hit a snag in the Elite 8 matchup with the Newton Eagles.
Newton took charge in game one, then held off the Cavies in game two for a 25-16, 25-22 victory, sending the Eagles to state.
Carlinville finishes 23-14. Newton is 31-7. Despite the disappointment, Struble was proud of the team in general.
“I told the girls – you are Elite Eight,” Struble said. “Don’t ever forget that. So hold your head high and be a lady. They gave everything they could give and I’m really happy with them.”
The Cavaliers led 3-2 in game one on a kill by DeSpain, but after a kill from Mariah Earnest, the senior went back to serve. She had four straight points, including a pair of kills from Abby Frohning, as the Eagles grabbed a 7-3 lead.
The Cavies got only as close as 9-6 the rest of game one. Eventually, Josie Meinhart’s ace made it a 25-16 Eagles win in game one.
The second game was more competitive, and the Cavaliers had their chances.
Despite falling in a 5-2 hole, the Cavaliers regrouped behind three points from Griffith, including kills by Bates and DeSpain, to take a 6-5 lead.
Chew added a kill and a service point for a 9-7 advantage, and a pair of DeNeve points had the Cavies in front by a 13-10 score.
But gradually, Newton began its ascent, taking a 15-14 lead. Carlinville regained a lead at 17-16 on a Chew kill, and the game was tied 18-18 on another Chew kill.
Tied at 19-19, the Eagles scored two straight to gain the upperhand at 21-19.
Griffith’s kill made it a 22-21 Newton lead, but the Eagles eventually got the game-winning point from a Frohning kill.
“They peaked at the right time and that was my wish for the season,” Struble said. “I knew they had the potential to do it, and so I was hoping the peak was when we needed the peak.”
For Carlinville, Bates had 14 assists and four kills. Chew had six kills and Griffith had four points and four kills. DeSpain added three kills and Wills had three points.
A balanced Newton attack was led by Frohning’s eight kills. Earnest and Ali Bierman had five kills each.
Struble commented on the seniors and what they have meant to the tradition of CHS volleyball.
“The seniors are so compassionate – so caring,” Struble said. “They are such team players that they’ve taught everybody else it’s not about you, it’s about us. They have just built such a bond on this team. The kids were so close.”
Earning first-team all South Central Conference honors for Carlinville were Bates and Chew. DeSpain was a second-team all-conference selection and Wills was named third team all-conference.
Sectional champions in Nashville, the Carlinville volleyball team front row, includes assistant coach Albert Dowland. Second row: Alyssa DeSpain, Sydney Bates, Taylor Wills, Anna Chew, Emma Griffith. Back row: head coach Fran Struble, assistant coach Kaitie Hammann, Sydney Bowman, Gracie Reels, Corin Stewart, Kelsey McKee, Jordyn Houseman, Lexi Egelhoff, Adriann Welte, Haley Wills, Sarah DeNeve, assistant coach Renee Young and assistant coach Heather Heater.
Anna Chew of Carlinville and Wesclin’s Madison Voss converge at the net during the sectional final at Nashville last Wednesday.
Adriann Welte skies for a kill attempt against Newton Friday night at the Vandalia Supersectional..