Effingham Daily News
The Stew-Stras Comets were trailing 13-6 in the first set of Tuesday night’s Class 1A Stew-Stras Sectional semifinal against Kansas Tri-County when the Comets launched a fierce offensive attack.
Stew-Stras players were spiking the ball at the Tri-County defense, placing their shots in very difficult spaces on the court.
Despite having the ball hit off of two basketball hoops on one volley, the Titans survived the Comets’ onslaught, winning the point, taking a 14-6 lead and cruising to a straight-set 25-13, 25-19 victory.
The Comets hung with the Titans in the second set, tying the score at 10 before giving up seven straight points to fall into a hole from which they couldn’t climb out.
Amber and Autumn Meyer made sure Tri-County didn’t allow very many spikes, making several difficult digs and setting up big hitters like Kyla Skinner and Abby Smith for easy kills.
The Tri-County defense also didn’t allow the Comets to serve a single ace all night long, returning everything Stew-Stras sent its way.
“Kansas has got a good defense,” Stew-Stras coach Ronda Schlechte said. “They are quick and can pull a lot of stuff up. We just couldn’t catch those breaks.”
Schlechte added that she hoped her team could improve its speed this offseason.
“I wish we could be quicker, that’s something to focus on for next season,” she said. “Sometimes I feel we are watching the ball drop instead of making the effort to go get it.”
Brittani Tabbert led the way for the Comets, amassing four kills, four digs and two blocks. Kendall Knop added three kills, two assists, eight digs and a block, and Baylee Quast added one kill, three assists and two digs.
Seniors Mariah Tabbert and Kelsie Walden played their last volleyball game for Stew-Stras.
Schlechte said she will miss the way this year’s seniors always kept the mood light at practice.
“They are jokers and pranksters and they’re a lot of fun,” she said. “We have a fun team right now.”
Despite the loss of the two seniors, the Comets will have several key players returning in 2013.
Schlechte said her 2013 team has the chance to do some great things, including securing a sectional championship.
“We’re not losing any major hitters,” she said. “So I feel like if it’s going to happen, next year’s got to be the year.”
Overall, she added that she was pleased with the way the 2012 campaign went. The Comets improved their record, finishing with a 22-16 mark, and showed an increase in talent from 2011.
“I think we played better,” she said. “We were more committed as a team than we were last year.”