Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 21, 2013

Bulldogs best in NTC again

ALEX MCNAMEE
Daily News

---- — Top-seeded Stew-Stras faced two separate 7-1 deficits during play in Saturday’s National Trail Conference tournament, but the difference between coming back from one and not from another may have been St. Anthony’s Haylee Mathis.

Mathis had 10 kills in the NTC championship game to lead the Bulldogs to the conference championship, beating Stew-Stras in two sets, 27-25 and 25-19, in the first-place game.

The Comets couldn’t come back from the 7-1 deficit after losing the first set by two points, during which the Comets led until St. Anthony took a 24-23 lead. In the second set, the Bulldogs put the NTC No. 1 seed away, as Stew-Stras only came as close as four points the rest of the way.

“It was a battle of raw power,” St. Anthony head coach Kristie Bailey said of the back and forth first set. “Fortunately for us, we ended up on top.”

Stew-Stras jumped out to a 13-5 lead, controlling the flow of the game similarly to when the Comets beat St. Anthony at the Enlow Center two weeks ago.

Bailey said the loss two weeks ago opened her eyes to a new aspect of her team’s offense, which ended up being a driving force on the road to the championship.

“Sometimes, when you lose, it makes you look at everything,” Bailey said.

Bailey said she realized she needed to give more playing time to freshman Jenna Woltman, who could free up Mathis to be more of an offensive attacker — whereas she was a setter most often this season.

Mathis had 10 kills in each of the two games St. Anthony played Saturday, beating Neoga in straight sets before playing Stew-Stras for the championship.

“You always hope for a better outcome, but with (Mathis) hitting that changed things up quite a bit,” Stew-Stras head coach Ronda Schlechte said. “We lost a lot of points to her.”

When Mathis moved into her front-row attacking position, she charged the Bulldogs back into the first set against Stew-Stras. Trailing 13-5, St. Anthony took 10 of the next 14 points to close within two points, 17-15.

The Comets jumped back out to a lead, 20-16, but St. Anthony battled back to tie the set, 23-23, and take the lead one point later. After Stew-Stras tied the game, 25-25, Mathis finished the set with a crushing spike.

“When you can touch 10 feet, it’s a big thing,” Bailey said of Mathis.

Schlechte said her team didn’t have the height in the front row to contest Mathis’ hitting as often as the Comets needed to. Even so, Stew-Stras challenged the Bulldogs.

“We had to work real hard for it this year,” Bailey said. “Stew-Stras is a great team and I’d play them every day because it would make both of us better.”

St. Anthony’s Megan Nuxoll and Rachel Schultz helped beat the challenge. Nuxoll had a team-high 11 kills, while Schultz led all Bulldogs with 19 digs.

The Comets succeeded in coming back from a 7-1 deficit in the third set against Neoga earlier Saturday night. They scored six of the next seven points to draw closer, 8-7, tied the set 12-12 and fell behind again.

Trailing 14-12, the Comets scored eight unanswered points to take a 20-14 lead and didn’t look back.

“The girls did not give up,” Schlechte said. “They don’t let that get them down too much and they do battle back.”

Neoga head coach Reeni Letizia said Stew-Stras started hitting its spots, where Neoga’s defense wasn’t, to make its comeback complete.

After losing to Stew-Stras to start the night, Neoga played St. Anthony in the next game and lost in straight sets.

The Indians beat third-seeded Altamont on Friday to get the chance to play in the Gold Flight with Stew-Stras and St. Anthony, which made Saturday’s losses all the more disappointing, Letizia said.

“They got to a point that, earlier in the season, nobody thought they would get to,” Letizia said. “It’s more disappointing for them, right now, to lose.”

Neoga finishes in third place in the NTC, despite going 0-2 in the Gold Flight, while St. Anthony and Stew-Stras finished first and second, respectively.

“It’s been a long time since a second place,” Schlechte said. “I wished, but it didn’t happen.”

Altamont finished fourth in the NTC, despite being one of three teams with only one loss in regular season conference play — along with Stew-Stras and St. Anthony.

Altamont beat Windsor and South Central in the Silver Flight on Saturday to take fourth place in the league, while Windsor beat South Central in two sets to take fifth place.

Behind sixth-place South Central, St. Elmo/Brownstown won its two games in the Bronze Flight to take seventh place, while Cowden-Herrick took eighth by beating Beecher City in three sets — winning the third set, 25-21.

Beecher City finishes the NTC in ninth place, while Dieterich finished 10th by being eliminated Friday night.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

Gold Flight

Stew-Stras 25 23 25Neoga 16 25 19

Stew-Stras: Schlechte (6 kills, 20 assists, 18 digs, 1 block); Quast (2 aces, 3 kills, 25 assists, 14 digs); Knop (2 aces, 13 kills, 2 assists, 20 digs); Tabbert (1 ace, 21 kills, 9 digs); Stremming (2 kills, 3 digs); Locke (2 aces, 1 assist, 11 digs); Kaufman (2 kills, 3 digs)

St. Anthony 25 25

Neoga 20 10St. Anthony: Wortman (2 digs), Mathis (1 ace, 12 assists, 2 digs, 10 kills), Wohltman (11 assists), Schmidt (1 ace, 2 digs, 2 kills), Wendt (10 kills), Braunecker (2 aces, 3 digs, 6 kills), Mumm (2 assists, 1 kill), Nuxoll (8 digs, 4 kills), Schultz (1 ace, 13 digs)

Stew-Stras 25 19St. Anthony 27 25

Stew-Stras: Schlechte (1 ace, 3 kills, 4 assists, 12 digs); Quast (11 assists, 5 digs); Knop (3 aces, 7 kills, 4 digs); Tabbert (7 kills, 6 digs); Locke (8 digs); Kaufman (1 kill, 1 assist)St. Anthony: Mathis (2 aces, 10 kills, 5 digs, 16 assists, 1 block), Wohltman (2 aces, 10 assists), Schmidt (1 dig), Wendt (6 kills, 1 dig), Braunecker (2 aces, 3 kills, 3 digs), Mumm (4 kills, 1 dig, 2 assists), Nuxoll (11 kills, 9 digs), Schultz (19 digs), Rinker (1 dig)

Silver Flight

Windsor 23 19Altamont 25 25Altamont: White (9 kills, 2 blocks, 4 digs), Laatsch (4 kills, 1 block), Alwardt (4 kills, 1 block), Wendling (2 kills, 2 aces, 19 assists, 6 digs), Ledbetter (3 kills, 4 aces, 7 digs), Kopplin (3 kills, 3 aces, 1 dig), Johnson (2 aces, 3 digs), Smith (2 digs), L Ohnesorge (2 digs), M Ohnesorge (2 digs)

South Central 22 16Altamont 25 25Altamont: Alwardt (7 kills), White (7 kills, 2 digs, 4 blocks), Kopplin (4 kills, 2 blocks), Ledbetter (2 kills, 4 aces, 6 digs), Wendling (1 kill, 2 aces, 17 assists, 5 digs), Laatsch (1 kill), L Ohnesorge (2 aces, 2 digs), M Ohnesorge (1 dig), Smith (2 digs), Johnson (4 digs)South Central: Young (1 ace, 5 digs); M. Brasel (4 kills, 5 assists, 3 digs, 1 ace); L. Brasel (6 kills, 3 blocks); Chapman (2 kills, 5 assists); Garrett (2 kills); Schaal (1 assist, 1 dig); Drum (1 ace); Harpster (1 dig); Potter (1 dig)

Windsor 25 25South Central 22 16

South Central: M. Brasel (5 kills, 8 assists, 1 dig); Chapman (2 kills, 7 assists, 1 ace); Smith (4 kills, 1 assist); L. Brasel (6 kills, 1 block); Garrett (3 kills); Schaal (4 assists, 1 dig); Young (6 digs); Monical (2 digs); Harpster (3 digs, 2 aces); Drum (1 dig); Sill (1 kill); Potter (1 kill

Bronze Flight

St. Elmo/Brownstown 25 25Beecher City 21 17St. Elmo/Brownstown: Moore (5 kills, 1 ace, 4 digs), Oberlink (4 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs), Barnick (3 kills, 1 assist, 1 ace, 2 digs), Kroll (1 kill, 6 assists, 2 aces), Bone (2 kills, 1 assist, 4 digs), Howard (3 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig), Austin (3 aces, 6 digs), Walk (1 assist, 1 dig), Behl (2 kills, 8 assists, 4 digs), Maxey (5 digs), Guerrero (3 digs)Beecher City totals: Haslett (13 digs), Sloan (6 aces, 10 kills, 26 digs), Johnson (1 ace, 4 kills, 6 assists, 4 digs), Hilt (5 aces, 1 kill, 1 block, 25 assists, 18 digs), Herrmann (2 aces, 9 kills, 1 block, 1 assist, 18 digs), Buzzard (2 aces, 10 kills, 1 block, 24 digs), Kelly (3 aces, 8 kills, 1 blocks), Reed (2 digs)

Cowden-Herrick 25 17 25Beecher City 16 25 21Cowden-Herrick totals: Davis (1 kill), A Heiserman (4 kills, 5 assists), Lorton (4 aces, 5 kills), Morrison (6 kills, 9 blocks), J Heiserman (2 aces, 2 kills, 1 block), Kresin (1 blocks), Riley (2 aces, 2 kills), Robison (2 kills, 9 assists), King (1 ace, 2 kills), Emma Wehrle (2 aces)

St. Elmo/Brownstown 25 25Cowden-Herrick 13 23St. Elmo/Brownstown: Oberlink (8 kills, 1 assist, 2 aces, 2 digs), Moore (5 kils, 7 digs), Behl (2 kills, 12 assists, 3 aces), Howard (5 kills, 1 dig), Barnick (1 kill, 1 ace), Bone (2 kills, 2 digs), Walk (7 assists, 1 dig), Austin (4 digs), Maxey (1 kill, 3 digs), Guerrero (6 digs), Miller (1 dig), Kroll (2 assists, 1 dig)