ST. ELMO —
For nearly 60 points Thursday night, the Altamont Indians and Edwardsville Metro East Lutheran Knights played about as even of a volleyball match as could be expected.
Those middle points were bookended by two big Metro East runs, powering the Knights to a 25-17, 25-15 win to end Altamont's season.
While the teams spent the night evenly matched for nearly three-quarters of the game, Altamont coach Tim Dooling said Metro East did a better job of playing to its strengths.
"I give them all the credit," he said. "They took advantage of their best players, they got the ball outside to (Jessica) Green a lot."
Those strengths were apparent early as Metro East set up Anna Kellar and Green early and often on its way to an 11-2 lead.
A couple of timeouts calmed down Altamont and the Indians' play rebounded, as they'd outscore Metro East 15-14 to end the set and tried to set up a comeback in the final two sets.
That effort was successful early in the second set. The teams traded the lead back and forth until Altamont took a 5-4 lead on a Gabby Alwardt kill, and while the Knights tied it multiple times, Altmaont held firm.
"After 12-3, we settled down and we were fine with them for that stretch," Dooling said.
Altamont took its biggest lead of the set at 13-11 and forced Metro East into a timeout. That galvanized the Knights' effort.
Another Alwardt kill set up Altamont with a 14-12 lead, but before the Indians could score again, it was all but over.
The Knights scored the next 12 points behind Kellar, Amy Best and Mckenna Judge to make it 24-14.
Altamont ended the run with a Metro East error, but freshman Meredith Stratmann ended the game with a booming kill.
Dooling said his squad saw the set slipping away and might have tried too hard to reverse the momentum.
"We got a bit frustrated and got out of our element," he said. "We tried to do some things we're not used to doing.
"They are used to playing bigger and harder-hitting teams than us. We don't see teams all the time like them or like us. It benefits them, they're not bothered by us having a couple people that can hit the ball hard."
Lauren White had a good all-around game, recording five kills, four digs and a block. Amelia Kopplin also had five kills and a block with three digs, while Alwardt had three kills and a block.
Macy Wendling had nine assists and Deidre Ledbetter topped the team with six digs. The Indians didn't record an ace after notching 10 against St. Elmo/Brownstown.
The Indians end their season with a 26-8 record and graduate 12 seniors in the offseason, with the loss ending a prosperous era of Indian volleyball.
"A lot of girls have put four years of their life into the program, developed and got better," Dooling said. "They helped us have a great season, it was a great season."
Metro East (22-13) advances to the Newton Sectional, where they will face Carlinville at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Robinson will face St. Anthony at 7 p.m.
Metro East Lutheran 25 25
Altamont 17 15
Altamont: White (5 kills, 4 digs, 1 block); Kopplin (5 kills, 3 digs, 1 block); Ledbetter (2 kills, 6 digs); Alwardt (3 kills, 1 block); Laatsch (2 kills); Wendling (9 assists); Winters (3 digs); Johnson (2 digs)