Brueklyn Belcher, Tori Budde, Kennedy Sowell, Krista Phillips, Lexi Chrappa, Mattie Angel, Megan Ballman, and Sawyer Althoff saw their regular season home careers end Tuesday night.
Effingham lost to Mattoon in straight sets, as all eight seniors were honored before the match. The Hearts dropped the first set 25-20 and the second 26-24.
“The first game, we missed five serves, and in a game that close, you can’t be missing five serves,” Effingham head coach Theresa Vogt said. “They’re a good team. They’re ranked second in our regional, so we’re going to see them again. We knew we were going to have to come out and fight hard. In the first game, we were doing good about hitting around the block, and then in the second game, we forgot what our strategy was, and we were getting scared; too worried about losing and not focused on winning.”
Yet, even though the Hearts dug themselves into a hole, they managed to regroup and make the Green Wave earn every point.
In the second, Effingham (14-21, 2-10 Apollo Conference) saw themselves facing an early deficit. But just like they’ve done all season, they clawed back to tie the set at 24, with Vogt crediting her teams serving for that.
“We started serving more aggressively,” Vogt said. “I called a timeout, and I said that we have to start serving them easy balls because they were going to set up the middles and crush it. It’s the same as when you miss your serve; I’d rather you serve aggressive and miss than serve easy.”
Offensively, Effingham finished the match with 24 kills and 24 assists, all without the services of two seniors.
Budde, who serves as the main setter, and Althoff, the starting libero, both missed the match due to injuries. Vogt said that their timetables to return were both unclear.
“Tori is getting an MRI, so we don’t know what the results of that are, and Sawyer has an appointment on Tuesday to see what they decide to do there,” Vogt said. “It’s all up in the air. We just got to plan on them not playing and then hope for the best.”
Setting up the hitters was Angel — who is usually the second setter — and junior Ali Davis, who came off the bench. Both finished with 12 assists.
As for the hitters, Sowell and Chrappa had 11 and seven kills, respectively. Phillips added three, while freshman Sidney Donaldson had two and Belcher had one.
Meanwhile — in the back row — replacing Althoff was her sister, Saige, who finished the match with 11 digs.
Overall, the Hearts finished with 47 digs. Chrappa led the team with 17.
Despite honoring its seniors Tuesday, all eight will return home to face Mattoon again in the Class 2A Regional Semifinals on Oct. 26. The Hearts host the Green Wave at 6:30 p.m. with a shot at a regional championship on the line.