By Nathan Cortez
Kat Blase leaped up and blocked a shot to put Charleston ahead 1-0 in the opening set and later slammed a shot into two Highland defenders who returned it for the final point of the match.
In between, Blase had eight kills and multiple blocks.
Highland (13-3), though, proved slightly better in Saturday’s championship match. In a volleyball match filled with lengthy rallies, solid setting and excellent net play, the Trojans fell to Highland, 25-21, 25-19.
As a result, the Charleston volleyball team came in second place at the CHS Invitational tournament on its home court at Baker Gym.
The Trojans went undefeated, defeating Lawrenceville and Richland in the opening round, and then defeated Teutopolis, 25-20, 26-24, in the semifinals to advance into the championship match against Highland.
Charleston relied on two longer scoring rallies in the opening set. A 7-2 run bolstered by several great sets from Abby Kallis, a slam from Blase and several unforced errors by Highland, moved the Trojans within 17-16. But Highland slowly built its lead to win by four.
Highland moved ahead down the stretch in the second set, relying on kills and a few unforced errors to erase Charleston’s 17-16 lead.
CHS coach Steve Pamperin said he could not be more proud of his team.
“They put a whole lot of energy and effort and played with heart all day,” Pamperin said. “Even though we didn’t win the tournament, our team played with a lot of emotion and strength and that was awesome.”
Kat Blase, who had eight kills in the two games of the championship match, said it takes a lot of time and effort when it comes to hitting on net.
“I practice a lot hitting so hard over the net,” Blase said. “The more I practice on it, the better I get.”
Pamperin said that Blase has certainly been a huge factor in the team’s success.
“I thought Kat did really well,” Pamperin said. “Our setting, serving, ball receiving, and control was really good, allowing Kat to get her opportunities at the net.”
Blase and senior Abby Kallis were named to the all-tournament team.
“We have such a good team this year,” Kallis said. “When the passing is great, I’m great and we’re able to stay balanced as a result.”
Pamperin also said that Kallis, Blase, and their teammates continue to improve.
“Volleyball is one of the most tense sports and you need every component possible,” Pamperin said. “Fortunately, there are leaders for when it comes to practice and bringing everybody together during intensity.”
Charleston, which is now 15-5, next plays at Lincoln on Tuesday night.