Volleyball Bulldogs victorious at Macoupin County Tournament
Staunton crowned back-to-back champion for the first time in 27 years
By Jackson Wilson
They may have been seeded third, but the Staunton volleyball Bulldogs showed that ratings mean absolutely nothing when it comes to playing the game. With the top-seeded host Carlinville Cavaliers as their opponent in the championship match, the Bulldogs were out to prove that their straight set triumph against the Cavies in Staunton two days prior wasn’t a fluke. Despite an improved effort from the Cavaliers, the Bulldogs were able to seize the victory and repeat as County Tournament Champions.
Staunton came out of the gates a little rusty in the championship’s opening set. Thanks to multiple service errors and defensive miscues by the Dogs, the Cavaliers used a 9-4 run to take the lead late, 17-13. Staunton would rally to tie the match at 22 but Adriann Welte came through in the clutch for the Cavies with some huge kills to retake a 24-22 lead. Welte would then collaborate with Haley Wills on a game winning block, securing set point and a 1-0 lead for the Cavaliers in the best-of-3 championship match.
With their backs against the wall heading into set two, the Bulldogs bounced back in a big way. Thanks to an opening 5-1 service run by Hollie Bekeske, Staunton was able to swing all the momentum in its favor to take a dominant 15-6 lead. The Cavies battled back, cutting the deficit down to 19-15, but the Bulldogs shut down their rally and ran away with the set 25-17. This set the stage for a winner take all showdown.
The third and final set was a magical fairy tale of runs. Carlinville came out strong and posted an early 7-4 lead, forcing Staunton to call a timeout. Then, it was the Bulldogs turn to make a run. A solid 9-3 surge gave Staunton a 13-10 lead. The Cavaliers took a timeout of their own, then it was an all-out sprint to the finish. With Staunton leading 17-12, Carlinville put together a massive rally and drew within 20-19. Unfortunately, the Cavies were hit with a late service error that ignited a championship clinching run for the Bulldogs, 25-19.
Even though the Cavaliers didn’t get the redemption victory they were hoping for, first-year head coach Kaitie Hammann was still very pleased with her players.
In Pool A, the Cavaliers defeated North Mac (25-21, 25-14) and Bunker Hill (25-10, 25-15) in straight sets to reach the championship game. The loss to Staunton dropped Carlinville to 15-11 on the year. The Bulldogs straight-set through their pool as well. Staunton had to play three games instead of two due to an odd number of seven teams in the tournament. They knocked off Mt. Olive (25-14, 25-14) and Gillespie (25-15, 25-18) then powered past second seeded Southwestern (25-16, 25-11) to set up the championship match against Carlinville. The victorious Bulldogs improved to 18-6-1 on the season.
Fourth seeded Bunker Hill upset Southwestern (25-22, 26-28, 25-23) in the third place game, dropping the Piasa Birds to 15-7-2.
Mt. Olive eliminated Gillespie in pool play (27-25, 23-25, 17-15) but fell short to North Mac in the fifth place match (25-23, 25-13).
Members of the 2018 Macoupin County All-Tournament team included McKenna Buchanan (North Mac), Lexy Hall (Piasa Southwestern), Bri Roloff (Piasa Southwestern), Sarah Isenberg (Staunton), Ashleigh Painter (Staunton), Gabbie Reising (Staunton), Brylie Chrisman (Bunker Hill) and Adriann Welte (Carlinville).