Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski

An 8-3 run by Mattoon, propelled by Bella Smith’s acrobatic tip, sealed the Green Wave’s 22-25, 25-7, 25-18 victory over Charleston in their Volley for a Cure match at Mattoon on Wednesday evening.

“Our Bella Rose keeps us on our toes,” Mattoon coach Kayla Quick said. “She does. She is one of the most fantastic athletes I have had the pleasure to work with. You never know what you’re going to get out of her.”

“She (Bella) is smart,” Quick added. “She’s able to see what’s happening on the other side of the net. She’s able to read and anticipate where that ball should go. She gets the ball, she’s ready to do something with it. She’s just fantastic.”

Mattoon, after going ahead 8-0 in the third set and trying to fend off a Charleston surge, spun around and blindly tipped the ball over the net and down the line for a 21-15 set lead. A spike by Charleston’s Addison Schrader blew through two Mattoon defenders, giving life to the Trojans before the Green Wave finished off their county rivals.

“I am incredibly proud of them for persevering and pushing through this,” Quick said. “This one especially was an intense game. This was our Volley for a Cure game, and it’s our rival that we’re playing. I am extremely proud of these girls for being able to tune out the distractions and focus on what they had going on.”

Charleston’s Makenzie Pamperin (center) celebrates a point with her teammates.

Charleston captured the first set after outlasting Mattoon. The Green Wave roared back in the second set, going on their first of two opening-set 8-0 runs and eventually running away with set to take the match to a third and final set.

“These girls are all playing for each other,” Charleston coach Steve Pamperin said. “Win or lose. Good points. Bad points. These kids are playing for each other even when they’re down, which shows a lot of character for these kids and a lot of drive that they’re playing for each other every single point.”

Pamperin was pleased that his team continued to improve throughout the match.

“The whole theme of this season has been to keep improving and keep working on the season,” said Pamperin said. “They’ve done that and are continuing to do that. I was proud of them for not giving up on that second set. That’s really on them. They’ve embraced that and want to play for each other no matter what happens. The kids have been doing a really good job of that. They have committed themselves the entire season.”

Mattoon, 12-6, next travels to face Mahomet-Seymour tonight while Charleston, 4-18, plays host to Mt. Zion.

A check presentation ceremony before the match noted the two schools raised $2,180 for cancer research.