On Saturday, the culmination of a historical season came to an end for the All Saints Academy Lady Saints volleyball team from Breese, IL as they captured the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association Class S State Championship. The Lady Saints entered the SIJHSAA State Championship with a 27-0 record, not having dropped a set all season. After easily disposing of first round opponent Jasper-Geff, they moved on to their toughest opponent all season, a 27-1 St. Bruno team from Pinckneyville, IL. All Saints came out strong just have they done in their previous 28 wins easily taking the first set from St. Bruno 25-7. Then, the defense of St. Bruno showed up, seemingly digging and passing everything the Saints threw at them eventually handing the Saints their first set loss of the season 25-19. Overwhelmed with a feeling they haven’t known in over two years, the Saints team dug deep to persevere. H2 STL 15 Black Libero and ASA outside Emily Johnston stepped to the serve line at 12-10 and lasered two aces and an out of system to take the 3rd set 15-10. The win pitted the Saints against county rival Albers-Damiansville which had fallen to the Lady Saints three times already this season all by sweeping two set matches. Maybe showing some fatigue from the St. Bruno match, the Saints suffered their second set loss of the season as Albers took the 1st set 25-21. The Saints were undeterred by the crowd roar from the Albers following. The Lady Saints, already knowing the taste of a set loss and what it takes to bounce back, left no doubt that Albers was no match for the Lady Saints when they hit full stride as they took the 2nd set 25-15. Enter the 3rd set as the Saints jumped out to a quick lead and never looking back and finishing with a thunder kill off the double block by H2 STL 15 Black and ASA outside hitter Tori Mohesky to a finish 15-9. On to the State Final match against Altamont Lutheran. The Saints, after a brief 15-minute rest, had to fight against an undersized, but very scrappy Altamont team taking the 1st set 25-22. The wear and tear of the previous two 3-set matches may have taken a toll as the Saints dropped the 2nd set 25-20. Going into the 3rd set, you could see the Lady Saints eyes saying, “not today.” With the coin toss serve, they went out on a run starting with H2 STL 15 Black and ASA setter Anna Richter getting the first five points. After a side out, H2 STL 15 Black and ASA outside hitter Tori Mohesky lined up the next four serve points. One more side out later and H2 STL 15 Black and ASA middle hitter Riley Kleber came to the line to serve out the finals points taking the State clinching set 15-3. Along with approximately 300 family, friends and student body to make the trip to Herrin, IL to support All Saints, their sisters of H2 STL 15 Black joined in the mix sporting their team red. H2 STL 15 Black Head Coach Chuck Roy, middle hitter Kenadi Barriger, outside hitter Hailey Cortinas and right sides Cami Marteeny and Myah Helmkamp came in strong to back up their H2 teammates and H2 STL 15 Black and ASA Assistant Coach Jenna Ratermann. It was the first time in the All Saints Academy history that the volleyball program finished the season 31-0 as State Champions. What may be even more astounding, is that the All Saints volleyball program is the first in Illinois State Athletics history to earn State titles in the same sport in all three class levels having already earned volleyball State titles in the past for Large and Medium schools. Congratulations to Coach Jen Jasper, the rest of the All Saints Academy Lady Saints, family, friends and school faculty of All Saints! Great job ladies, Coach Jenna and I are very proud of you!
Congratulations to H2 STL 15 Black setter Sarah Gingrich! Sarah earned the 2018 Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association Jim Burnes Leadership Award. Competition for this award is based on the following criteria: GPA, sports participation, community activities, specific honors, a typed essay, and recommendations from inside the school and the community. As you can expect, the selection process is highly competitive. Sarah was selected amongst her peers at Wolf Branch Middle School to represent Region 6. The overall accomplishment being one of 10 selected among over 9,400 eligible students within 160 schools in the SIJHSAA is an outstanding achievement. As her coach, I can concur that Sarah is an exceptional leader on and off the court. This is Sarah’s first year setting for me and her H2 STL 15 Black team. Coach Jenna, your teammates and I would like to say, “great job Sarah, well done and a well-deserved honor.”
The weekend of 10 and 11 March, H2 STL 15 Black travelled to Bloomington, IL to compete in the JVA Illini Elite 15U/16U Central Finale. Entering the tournament, the team was hot and only continuing their streak finishing 2nd in Gold in the previous two week’s tournaments. The girls knew we were going to face a challenge being without right side Myah Helmkamp due to an appendicitis and middle Kenadi Barriger coming off a knee injury that limited her game play over the last two tournaments. As always, we employed the “next athlete up” mentality with setter Anna Richter stepping in the role of now setter/RS.
The JVA was going to test them in this 26-team field. Seeded 2nd to last overall at 25th, it was evident on the first day that these teams did not know what was stepping into their complex…and we were reminded of that by parents and coaches. Day 1 brought an across the board dominant performance from the team taking out Illini Elite 16 Silver, Illini United 16U and Lincoln Fusion 16U all in two set sweeps. Producing very few errors and stepping to the serve line putting our opponents in an out of system role for most of the matches, the teams didn’t have an answer for our fast transitions and overpowering attacks.
Day 2 started off interestingly. Coming out of the infamous Day Light Savings Time Spring Forward, the girls came out a little sluggish dropping the first set to #1 overall seed Illini Elite 16 Blue 25-16. Crazy enough, we were all smiles because we knew exactly what we needed to do and knew what happened the 1st set. We started out hot from the beginning and didn’t let up taking the 2nd set 25-14. Now the ladies have their rhythm and taking it to a 3rd set Illini Elite jumped out to a quick lead that after a much-needed time out, we chipped away at to get to 8-7. Then, back to back errant referee calls after the court switch hurt our momentum. The girls continued to claw back, but the scoreboard ended out at 15-13 Illini Blue. After the game, our heads were up because they knew what they needed to do to win out. After a long rest period, not by choice (see insert pic), the ladies came out with a vengeance on Primetime 16U taking them out in a quick two set sweep 25-17 25-11. Finally, oddly how the Gold bracket play was setup, pinned us in a rematch of Day 1 against Lincoln Fusion 16U. We started off slow, as Fusion started off hot…that’s never a good combination. In surprise to those on and off the court, Fusion took the 1st set 25-20. Starting off the 2nd set, setter Anna Richter stepped to the serve line and went off on a nine-service run with three aces. As the sleeping bear woke, H2 15 Black didn’t look back and took the 2nd set 25-19. Pumped with excitement as they stepped on to battle for the 3rd and final set, again, a service run from the start was key. Outside hitter Tori Mohesky came out guns-a-blazin’ with an eight-serve run with four aces and right behind her middle hitter Riley Kleber brought her power jump float to the table with a three-serve run and two aces. After another side out, up 11-2 next to the line was setter Sarah Gingrich taking her four-serve run and two aces to a 14-3 lead. Fusion gaining one more point was eventually closed out at 15-4.
The two-day JVA event gave the girls their first test of the season with competition outside of the Gateway Region. Even though the final standings weren’t of a satisfaction to the girls placing 5th overall in Gold, it was rewarding starting out as the second lowest seed, competing as the only 15U team in Gold, going 5-1 against all 16U teams only dropping two sets and taking the overall #1 seed to three sets was promising leading into the big season push of April.
Throughout the weekend, the ladies threw up some huge statistics. Starting with outside hitter finishing with 44 kills taking her team lead to 147 kills on the season. Defensively Tori brought in 27 digs and serving 29 aces finishing with a tournament triple, double. On her heals was middle hitter Riley Kleber with 33 kills taking her to 2nd best 120 kills on the season. The full strength return of middle hitter Kenadi Barriger paid dividends to the team with her 31 kills on the weekend bringing her season total to 91. Her five blocks brings her to 19 blocks on the season. After a slow start on the season, a couple swing corrections added, outside hitter Hailey Cortinas had a personal season best 22 kills, 10 aces and 29 digs giving Hailey her first triple, double on the season. Right side hitter Cami Marteeny has made steady improvements over the past three tournaments, but this tournament really stepped up her game hammering down 19 kills with a couple huge out of system kills on Day 2 that were momentum swingers for the team. Defensively, 2nd year Libero Emily Johnston led the team with 42 digs bringing her season total to a staggering 176 digs. Setter Sarah Gingrich is continuing her path as a stand out setter in her first year with this team adding 65 assists. With her season total at 241 assists, Sarah is running her rotations very well. Standing in for the ill Myah Helmkamp on the right side, setter Anna Richter delivered 84 assists to the hitters giving her a team lead 287 assists on the season. In addition, Anna’s float serves netted 10 aces and 13 out of system serves at a 97% serve ratio.
On a side note, H2 STL 15 Black welcomed back outside hitter Hailey Cortinas Dad, Air Force Technical Sergeant Jesus Cortinas, from an eight-month deployment. It was a perfectly planned welcoming needing the full team parents and players to keep it Top Secret. 😊 Overall, the JVA tournament showed the girls some areas of improvement over the next couple of weeks leading into the Show Me Qualifier in Kansas City. This weekend, the ladies return to competition to battle it out at the 16U level once more at the Southwestern Illinois Campus Saturday Follies. Great job ladies!
Congratulations to the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association Regional Champions All Saints Academy from Breese, IL. The Saints entered the SIJHSAA Regional Championships as the small school Region 11 overall #1 seed hosted the tournament. The 300 plus fans that came out to watch, some of which were from other schools in the metro east area, witnessed the Saints continue their march towards history in their undefeated year, still not having dropped a single set all season. Once the girls worked the nerves out in a close Regional Semifinal battle with rival Germantown Elementary School taking them out in two sets, it was on to the Regional Finals against a scrappy Trinity Lutheran-Hoyleton team. All Saints was just too much for Hoyleton to handle with laser guided serves and an overpowering offense. All Saints took out Hoyleton in two quick sets 25-11 and 25-8. H2 STL 15 Black was well represented in Breese last night on and off the court. H2 STL 15 Black Head Coach Chuck Roy was joined by middle hitter Kenadi Barriger and setter Sarah Gingrich who made the trip out to cheer on their H2 sisters and H2 STL 15 Black Assistant Coach and ASA Assistant Coach Jenna Ratermann. H2 STL 15 Black and ASA outside Tori Mohesky and H2 STL 15 Black and ASA middle hitter Riley Kleber put on a jaw-dropping hitting clinic for those in attendance. ASA outside and H2 STL 15 Black Libero Emily Johnston issued a diverse serve arsenal of power top spins and deep floats that had the ladies of Hoyleton guessing each whistle with one run of nine consecutive serves in the second set. H2 STL 15 Black setter and ASA setter/RS Anna Richter dispersed pinpoint sets, running plays that most middle schools have never experienced all while delivering a power float serve that seemed to drop like a rock once it cleared the tape. The crowd was electric with a wave of “ace” cheers and bellowing “booms” as the attacks rained down! Student section support was awesome with player signs and a constant excitement for each point scored! Onward to State in Herrin, IL next Saturday 24 March. Great job ladies! Now go out and finish what you started in January!
“Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s cold outside…it’s Groundhog Day!” Well maybe it isn’t February 2nd and Bill Murray isn’t in Punxsutawney, PA, but Sunday sure felt like it. After finishing 2nd in Gold at the Thunder Classic last week, the ladies of H2 STL 15 Black came into the TESL Center for the March Madness and earned 2nd in Gold for the second straight week. This makes four 2nd’s in Gold out of five tournaments this season. From the beginning, it was evident that the winner of the tournament was going to come from our bracket. As stacked bracket with two Rockwood teams and a scrappy St. Louis Crossfire Elite team caught us on our heels giving us a split after taking three of four sets from both Rockwood teams in our pool. Having deciding set victories during the pool play gave us the point differential of a 1st place finish in pool play for the 5th consecutive tournament. The 2nd place team was a tough Rockwood 15 Carolina team with a Libero that just didn’t let anything touch the court. After beating 15 Carolina in a two-set sweep, we both knew we’d see each other again for the Gold. But first, we had to get through a 15 Illinois Heat team. After a 19-6 blowout first set, IL Heat found a spot and started out on top quick and we were forced to come back from a deficit early. Unfortunately, in sideout ball, we ran out of time dropping the 2nd 19-17. Dejected this team was not. They knew exactly what they did wrong and co-Captain Riley Kleber just looked at me and said, “relax coach, we got this.” The girls took over with a dominant serve performance in the 3rd by setter Sarah Gingrich delivering a seven-serve run with two aces and two out of system serves pulling away to a 15-7 3rd set victory. As expected, Rockwood 15 Carolina was in our sites for our goal of winning Gold. The girls started off slow going down 10-4 early. Again, after a much-needed timeout, they looked at me and their eyes said it this time, “we got this coach.” I let them work out their game plan and they didn’t falter. Not only did they fight back to tie, but a back and forth battle emerged ultimately H2 taking the 1st set 27-25. Going into the 2nd set, Jenna and I could see the girls were gassed from the many hard-fought matches and practices over the last three weeks. The girls gave 100% every whistle and battled every volley and left everything on the court, but on this day, the goal was not on our side and we fell in the next two sets to Rockwood. As the 2nd place medals were handed out, I could see they didn’t want to put the medal on for pictures. As I told them we’re always a 1st place team no matter what but be proud of the battle fought today for others would love to be in this position just once and we have been there four times. The girls grabbed their medals, and smiled for pics, knowing that we are a 1st in Gold team and that’s what matters.
This tournament saw the return of middle hitter Kenadi Barriger in a limited rotation role and she didn’t let her team down delivering a modest seven kills at a .357 hitting percentage. But K’s most important contribution was the five stuff blocks! Middle hitter Riley Kleber led the offensive wave delivering her first double double of the season with a team high 20 kills at a .406 clip and 10 digs along with six blocks and seven service aces. Outside hitter Tori Mohesky was right on Riley’s heels with her 3rd double double of the season with 19 kills and 14 digs and tossed in 7 serving aces to round out her day. Outside hitter Hailey Cortinas had her best tournament of the year coming in with her first double double of the season with 18 kills and 10 digs. Right side Myah Helmkamp is hitting her season stride and had some hammer dropping sideout kills on the outside finishing with 10 kills overall. Myah’s tag-team partner RS Cami Marteeny came in with 9 kills and 4 digs, 2 of her digs came in the critical semi-final match with IL Heat to keep Sarah’s serve run going. Second year Libero Emily Johnston was tasked heavily on Sunday with some very tough serving Rockwood teams and an overly tipping Crossfire team. Emily held her position with 41 digs bringing her season total to 134 digs, 34 serves with an outstanding 50% ace/out of system ratio. Key moment was a five-service run with three aces to close out the 27-25 1st set win of the final match. Setter Anna Richter stepped her game up bringing her third double double of the season guiding her rotations with 45 assists and covering her defensive responsibilities with 13 digs. Setter Sarah Gingrich came to play as well ringing up her first double double on the year with 36 assists and 10 service aces at a 91% serve efficiency. Middle hitter Sally Albers, who stepped in on a moment’s notice over the last two weeks for injured Kenadi Barriger, contributed six kills and one block on the day. As Kenadi is full strength, Sally will return to her full time select basketball team. The girls and coaches of H2 STL 15 Black thank you for joining the team in a time of need.
After four 2nd place finishes in Gold, most teams would consider this a successful season. Not to these girls who are hungry to get past this barrier and earn 1st in Gold. Although humble for the experience to earn 2nd, they understand 1st is the prize they want more than anything. This weekend we’re on the road to Bloomington, IL for the JVA Illini Elite 15U/16U Central Finale with the goal of bringing home 1st in Gold for the H2 program! Again ladies, excellent performance on Sunday. Coach Jenna and I are extremely proud of each and every one of you!
On Sunday, after a week off the ladies of H2 STL 15 Black returned to action at Crestview Middle School at the 15U Thunder Classic and captured their third 2nd place in Gold on the 2017-2018 season. After taking 2nd in Gold in their first tournament of the year a 16U in Perryville, the next week taking 2nd in Gold at Mineral Area and a 3rd in Gold at 15U Forest Park two weeks ago, these ladies have earned three medals in four tournaments this season. The girls charged forward into the Thunder Classic taking out PLVC 15-2, Serves-U-Right and a scrappy H2 STL 15 Illinois Black during pool play, taking 1st place with all three matches played without dropping a set. Entering the first round of medal play, it was an all H2 matchup pinning STL 15 Black against 15 Cardinal. The girls used a balanced attack, fast transitions and pinpoint serves to take out 15 Cardinal in two. All day on the court next to us, we eyed the team we knew we’d have to get through in order to earn 1st, a very talented Rockwood Navy 15 team that is currently 3rd in the Gateway Region ranking. The girls stepped onto the court for the Gold final with confidence exhuming from their bodies. After a monster warmup, it was back to back point exchanges until separation came at 12-10 and Rockwood never looked back. The 2nd set started off the same with H2 holding a brief lead until Rockwood’s same server that gave us fits the first set, had a short run to create a separation. Back to back questionable reffing calls put the girls behind and on the defensive for the rest of the set. We couldn’t overcome their speed and size losing the 2nd set 25-18 and going down in two. During the post-match huddle as I presented them with their 2nd place, I told them “that is by far the best team you have faced all year, and we had them on their heels looking around for two sets.” Although the score sheet said it was a loss for 15 Black, these girls now know just how talented they are and that they can compete against the best teams in the Gateway Region!
A true team effort across the board. Key accomplishments for the day were outside hitter Tori Mohesky who finished the day with her second triple double of the season with a team high 26 kills, 12 digs and threw in 11 serving aces. Middle hitter Riley Kleber brought in 15 kills and three huge blocks along with five service aces. Middle hitter Sally Albers, recent addition as a team practice player was promoted to play for Kenadi Barriger, who is recovering from a minor knee ailment, contributed 16 kills on 31 attacks. Right sides Myah Helmkamp and Cami Marteeny balanced out our attack system with 10 and 7 kills, respectively. Outside hitter Hailey Cortinas had a great defensive day with covering the back row with 12 digs. Libero Emily Johnston anchored the defense with a blistering 90% pass efficiency rate and had a team high 22 digs bringing her season total to 93 digs, along with 42 serves with an outstanding 50% ace/out of system ratio. Setters Sarah Gingrich and Anna Richter couldn’t be more of a balanced tandem of setters for this team. Sarah had 40 assists to Anna’s 39 assists. Anna had 24 serves with 100% serve percentage to Sarah’s 23 serves at 96%. These two young athletes directed a power attack of hitters to this point of the season better than any two setters I have coached. Middle Kenadi Barriger returns this weekend in a limited rep role as the girls are back at it this weekend at the TESL Center for the 15U March Madness where they hope to crack that 2nd place barrier. This will be our last test before next week’s trip to Bloomington for the Illini Elite 15U/16U JVA Central Finale. Great job ladies, Coach Jenna and I are very proud of you!