Effingham Daily News
St. Anthony won six of seven points against undefeated Edwards County between the end of the second set and start of the third, and then the officials changed the game.
The referees took away all three points of the Bulldogs' 3-1 third-set lead in the longest of a slew of official stoppages during Saturday’s Super-Sectional match, some of which included flash photography violations by fans in the crowd.
The Bulldogs lined up incorrectly, coming out of the break before the third set, and the bench-side official failed to notice and reorganize the players before the first serve. He corrected himself after the Bulldogs took the lead, and stripped St. Anthony of its three points because they were lined up incorrectly for all three. The Bulldogs had started the set with three straight points.
St. Anthony head coach Kristie Bailey said she put senior Haylee Mathis as the first server in the official lineup, but the team started the third set in a different, serve-receive formation.
“The official should’ve called it (when it was 0-0) because that’s his job,” Bailey said. “I had no idea we were wrong, (the players) had no idea we were wrong, because the official is supposed to check it at the beginning, to make sure we were right, and he said we were.”
The delay, which took about eight minutes to sort out, was one of many officiating issues, including “lifts” that weren’t called evenly between the teams, that Bailey wasn’t happy about after her team’s three-set loss to Edwards County, 25-21, 20-25, 25-14.
“The officials are not very good for a super-sectional; I mean, it’s a super-sectional and they pull these two people that can’t see anything,” Bailey said. “And all of this stopping the game for flash photography is ridiculous. Way to kill the momentum.”
The officials stopped the game at least twice for flash photography, including once during a four-point Edwards County rally in the third set.
The Bulldogs scored two straight points after having their lead taken away, but Edwards County tied the game 3-3 when the Bulldogs would’ve lead 6-3 if the original 3-1 lead was upheld.
Edwards County scored five unanswered points, trailing 3-2, to take a lead and rolled through the rest of the set to a 25-14 win that clinched a spot in Friday’s Class 2A state tournament in Normal.
Bailey said this year’s Edwards County team is better than the one that finished fourth in the state last season, but said there was no question the official’s mistake stole her team’s momentum.
“That was a big momentum switch, it really was,” Bailey said. “I just can’t believe (the Illinois High School Association) picked those two old people to do a super-sectional. I know a lot of good officials who don’t even get a regional. It is frustrating.”
St. Anthony lost to Edwards County two times earlier this season, but Bailey said she felt like her team almost had the state-bound Lions beat before the mistake that changed the game.
The Bulldogs proved capable of playing with the bigger Lions squad, which has two 6-foot players and three others taller than 5-foot-10.
A call went against the Bulldogs early in the second set, to tie the game 6-6, but St. Anthony scored seven straight points to build a 13-6 lead The Bulldogs scored four consecutive points to win the set, 25-20, including a kill by Logan Braunecker and an ace by Mathis.
Bailey said she adjusted her hitters’ strategy going in to the second set, after the Lions’ height was effective in blocking St. Anthony attacks.
“We switched it up and started doing a lot more tipping, and that’s what won us the second game,” Bailey said of the second set, which was only the third time Edwards County lost a set all season.
Lauren Wendt, one of four seniors who played their last game as a Bulldog on Saturday, led the charge in the second set. Bailey said she didn’t think the Lions stopped any of Wendt’s attacks.
Megan Nuxoll led a first-set charge to get St. Anthony back into the game, finishing three kills during a four-point streak that brought the Bulldogs within one point, 16-15; however, a service error by Rachel Shultz ended the rally.
Bailey said her team should be proud it played Edwards County tough, but said she didn’t think her team should’ve lost the last set by such a wide margin, 25-14, even after the three points the official took away.
“We almost had them, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us this year,” Bailey said. “It’s hard to play when the game is stopped so much.”
The IHSA allows coaches to submit evaluations of officials after every regular or postseason game. Bailey said she plans to rate them poorly, even though the IHSA “will think it’s because I lost.” Edwards County head coach Linda Oxby will do the same, Bailey said.
Edwards County will likely get a new set of officials on Friday. Bailey and her players have to live with the official’s mistake until next season.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
St. Anthony 21 25 14
Edwards County 25 20 25
St. Anthony: Wortman (1 dig), Mathis (16 kills, 1 block, 18 assists, 4 digs, 1 ace), Woltman (17 assists, 3 digs), Schmidt (1 block, 1 ace), Wendt (10 kills, 3 blocks), Braunecker (3 kills, 2 digs), Mumm (2 assists), Nuxoll (9 kills, 1 block, 2 digs, 1 ace), Schultz (9 digs, 1 ace)