COAL CITY – The leader of the Interstate Eight Conference North, Coal City, did not have as easy a time with 6-17 Herscher as the 25-17, 25-18 score might indicate.
Both games were as close as 18-16 before the Lady Coalers pulled away to win each game on their spirit night.
The festivities, which drew a large crowd, especially in the student section, may have had some effect on the hosts in Thursday’s I-8 crossover girls volleyball match.
“I think that with all the reason we were on and off and iffy is because spirit night, everybody’s here, it’s a distraction,” senior Coal City outside hitter Britta Spelde said. “But I think that once we realized that they kept catching up, catching up, we finally got our act together and pulled it through.”
Emily Halliday’s six kills were a Lady Coalers high, but Claire Smith was right behind with five and Spelde and Nicole Borgetti had four each. Kassie Aldridge distributed 20 assists in the two games.
Coal City’s ability to hold Herscher to 15 kills in a match, during which the Tigers made 10 hitting errors, was as key as what it did offensively to coach Michael Lanoue.
“The kids kind of came through with a little bit of net play and some pretty good defense,” Lanoue said. “I was pretty happy with our defensive effort.
“Our net play, our blocking and our ability to run faster offense this year has been a big plus for us. No matter what we do passing-wise, we’re able to find an outlet somewhere, we got some people that can hit. Hitting errors, I don’t think we had as many [five] as we’ve generally averaged.”
A sideout block from Smith returned the serve to Coal City after its lead had been trimmed to 18-16 in Game 1, and a Rebecca Cash block made possible the first of five straight Aldridge points that ended the game.
Spelde had a block, and Aldridge and Borgetti had kills, during a run of five straight Halliday points with which Coal City took the lead for good in the middle of Game 2.
“I think it definitely helped a lot,” Smith said of the timely blocking. “Just the fact that our back row is behind us, ready to cover just in case we didn’t completely get it down.”
Coal City has an I-8 North match against Lisle scheduled for next Tuesday. It will be sandwiched between nonconference matches against Clifton Central and Dwight.
The Lady Coalers are 6-0 in conference play and are atop the standings by a game over Westmont.
“We are [doing well], especially since I feel like we’re not going to have, hopefully, a match where it’s going to come down to whoever wins this game wins conference, like last year with Westmont,” Smith said. “Hopefully it will be an easier run.”