By Jeremy Arzuaga
Riding a five-game win streak, the Mattoon Green Wave were poised to add another victory to their win streak as they faced off in a conference match against their rivals, the Charleston Trojans.
It didn’t go as planned.
Mattoon was swept by Charleston, 25-20, 25-20, in EIU’s Lantz Arena in a game that raised several thousand dollars for cancer research.
Mattoon played Charleston tight for most of the two sets. But the Trojans’ Katarina Blase, who entered the match with 201 kills, played tough at the net once again for Charleston. Kaleigh Wilson, meanwhile, added a match-high 10 kills to pad her season total to 79.
Both players sizzled several shots past or around the outstretched hands of Green Wave defenders
The Green Wave were able to slow down Blase in the second match. But that only created more opportunities for Wilson and other Charleston players to capitalize.
CHS coach Steve Pamperin praised his team’s desire to play for one another as a team.
“Our girls right now are really coming together and gelling here in the second half of the season,” said Pamperin, “and they really played for each other and not for themselves. When they do that and play as a team and not as individuals, then in a way we’ll start making runs.”
Senior Kaleigh Wilson played a huge role for the Trojans by scoring many points while the Green Wave put heavy emphasis on shutting down Blase throughout the match.
Charleston was locked in throughout both sets, finding ways to get the ball over the net, thus creating two key eight-point runs midway through each set after having twice fallen behind by four points.
“You can see the runs that we went on is that we really passed the ball really well,” Pamperin said. “That’s a team effort, a team exercise, and once we do that, we have some success.”
Mattoon played Charleston tight for much of the two sets, twice going ahead by four until CHS put together its extended rallies. MHS coach Kayla Quick said that she remained positive due to the progress being made in each match that included a 7-3 run at the end of the second set.
“I was impressed with the ability to close the gap on the block where that is something we’ve struggled with all season long,” Quick said. “And so closing the gap especially in the middle against Katarina was a big deal for us. I’m looking forward to them continuing to push and close more of those gaps as those are what we are looking to fix.”
Grace Earp recorded eight kills for the Green Wave.
Both teams are on the road tonight. Charleston travels to face Mt. Zion and Mattoon plays at Mahomet.