Altamont and Neoga, the two top seeds in Pool C, finished Thursday night 2-0 to set up a matchup on Friday to determine which team will advance to the Gold Flight to play for the National Trail Conference championship on Saturday.
Altamont didn't get there without its share of challenges in wins against Beecher City and Dieterich, battling slow starts with help from seniors Amelia Kopplin and Deidre Ledbetter.
Kopplin served seven consecutive points for Altamont in a 7-7 first set against Beecher City to boost her team to a 14-7 lead that it'd hold onto, winning the opening set of the NTC tournament, 25-14.
Ledbetter made an impact in the next set, serving nine consecutive points to give the Indians a 10-2 lead that led to its 25-10 win to clinch the game.
Against Beecher City, Kopplin finished with a team-high six aces and Ledbetter finished with three.
“They take their serving very seriously,” Altamont head coach Tim Dooling said. “If they don't get points, they're bothered by it.”
While Koppling and Ledbetter picked their team out of its slow start, Dooling said the team struggled to get in its offensive flow early in the game against Beecher City.
“Volleyball is sort of random,” Dooling said. “If you can get the game into the flow you like it, then you play well. Sometimes, early in games, you just start going back and forth.”
In Altamont's second game, Dieterich battled the Indians after losing the first set 25-6. Dieterich held leads of 17-10 and 23-19 in the second set, but couldn't hold off the Indians.
Kopplin lifted Altamont back from a 18-13 deficit, serving six consecutive points to move the Indians into a 19-18 lead.
“It's good when you're pressure and have to play,” Dooling said. “Anytime you have to play, it stretches your team and makes them accountable with what they have to do.”
Fourth-seeded Neoga finished the night 2-0, beating Beecher City and Dieterich, finishing the first set against Beecher City strong by adjusting in the middle of the game.
Neoga head coach Reeni Letizia said her team did a good job playing together and correcting the mistakes it was making, as it held on to a 14-10 lead. The Indians scored 11 of the next 12 points to win the set 25-11, before they won the second set to clinch the game.
“They stayed focused, and even when things didn't go our way, they didn't let it bother them and did something right the next time,” Letizia said.
Courtney Croy and Olivia Ott led the team with five kills against Beecher City, while Jillian Deters finished with four. Ott also had six kills in Neoga's two-set win over Dieterich, 25-17 and 25-13.
Beecher City and Dieterich each finished the night without a win, despite Dieterich's close loss to third-seeded Altamont. Dieterich's Mallorie Vahling finished with four assists against Altamont and six against Neoga.
Beecher City head coach Katy Noble said her team knew it had a tough schedule against the top seeds in Pool C on Thursday, but said she hopes her team can combine the good things it did in its game against Dieterich on Friday.
“We wanted to come out and play hard and really work to prepare ourselves for tomorrow,” Noble said.
Friday's matchup between Beecher City and Dieterich will determine who will play into Saturday, while the Altamont and Neoga matchup will determine which team will play in Saturday's Gold Flight, in which the conference champion will be determined.
“Altamont is a great team,” Letizia said. “I think we're a great team. It's going to be an exciting match and whoever makes the least mistakes is going to win.”
Altamont and Neoga play at 5 p.m. Friday in the Enlow Center, while Beecher City and Dieterich play at 5 p.m. Friday in Goff Gym.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Altamont	25 25Beecher City	14 10
Altamont: Kopplin (7 kills, 6 aces, 1 dig), White (4 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs, 1 block), Alwardt (4 kills, 1 block), Laatsch (2 kills), Ledbetter (1 kill, 3 aces, 5 digs), Wendling (1 kill, 17 assists, 2 digs), Winters (1 ace, 1 dig), Ohnesorge (2 digs), Smith (4 digs), Johnson (2 digs)
Neoga		25 25Dieterich	17 13
Neoga: Kastl (1 kill, 4 digs), Ott (6 kills, 4 digs), Croy (2 kills), Deters (4 kills, 1 dig), Long (2 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces, 10 assists), Harshman (1 kill, 6 digs, 1 ace), Gresens (1 kill, 1 dig, 1 ace)Dieterich: Bohnhoff (4 digs, 1 kill, 6 assists), Winters (5 digs, 3 kills), Zacha (1 dig), F Boerngen (2 assists), Thoele (1 ace, 2 digs), Vahling (1 ace, 6 digs, 2 kills), M Boerngen (2 digs, 4 kills)
Altamont	25 25Dieterich	6 23
Altamont: Alwardt (5 kills, 1 block), White (4 kills, 4 aces, 1 block), Kopplin (4 kills, 4 aces, 1 dig), Ledbetter (3 kills, 7 digs), Wendling (1 kill, 15 assists), Ohnesorge (1 ace, 2 digs), Smith (6 digs), Johnson (2 digs), Winters (2 digs), Laatsch (2 blocks)Dieterich: Bohnhoff (2 digs, 3 kills, 4 assists), Winters (1 ace, 1 dig, 1 kills), Flach (2 digs), F Boerngen (1 dig), Thoele (3 digs, 2 kills), Vahling (2 aces, 4 digs, 1 kill), M Boerngen (2 digs, 1 kill, 5 blocks)
Neoga		25 25Beecher City	11 16
Neoga: Kastl (1 dig, 1 kill), Ott (1 dig, 4 blocks, 5 kills), Croy (5 kills), Long (3 digs, 10 assists, 1 ace, 1 kill), Harshman (2 digs, 3 aces, 1 kill), Gresens (2 digs, 2 aces, 1 kill), Deters (2 digs, 4 kills), Easton (1 dig)Beecher City combined stats: Haslett (3 digs), Sloan (4 kills, 1 assist, 6 digs), Johnson (2 kills), Hilt (1 ace, 2 kills, 11 assists, 11 digs), Herrmann (2 kills, 1 assist, 12 digs), Buzzard (1 ace, 4 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 8 digs), Kelly (1 ace, 3 kills, 1 digs), Reed (1 dig)