By Mike Monahan
Mattoon coach Kayla Quick said the rivalry game with Charleston never fails to motivate.
. “This is our biggest rival and a long-standing rival. I think it is a pride thing for the girls. It is deep-rooted in me because I wore these jerseys. I played this game just like they do and so, it feels good.”
For the third time this season and fifth consecutive time, Mattoon defeated Charleston Tuesday in an Apollo Conference match at Baker Gym. The Green Wave won, 23-25, 25-16, 25-8.
“I am really proud of the effort they had,” said first-year Charleston coach Nicole Beals. “I am glad we were able to have such a big crowd to play in front of and I am glad we were able to raise over $4,700 for breast cancer research. We look forward to it every year.”
Mattoon won its fourth straight match to improve to 10-7 overall and 3-3 in the conference, while the Trojans fell to 2-16 overall and 0-7 in the Apollo.
“This definitely builds up our confidence, especially beating Charleton,” said Mattoon senior outside hitter Lily Ghere.
In the third set Charleston led 2-1 when a service error gave Ghere the serve. MHS, who defeated the Trojans 25-13, 25-15 Sept. 17 and 25-8, 23-25, 25-9 on Sept. 2. Ghere served a total of 16 points getting help by two kills by Neveah Laster and one each by Jessica Evans, who led MHS with nine and Ashlynne Kuhn.
“She is a solid server,” said Quick, a Mattoon grad. “Her ball moves and floats relay well. It is hard for kids to reach, but she also puts the ball super close to the net. She does a nice job of keeping it low enough so that they don’t have that much time to anticipate the movement of the ball which really makes her effective.”
Charleston didn’t get closer than 12 (18-6) the rest of the way. Sarah Rankin, one of nine seniors for Mattoon, served the final two points getting help from a kill by Jada Cobb and Ghere ended the match with a kill off an assist from Ryan Smith.
“Honestly, I wasn’t having my best game and so once I started serving for a long time it built up my confidence,” said Ghere. “I didn’t play that well tonight, but we made it work.My teammates hyped me up when I hit the net.They were like ‘Keep swinging, you are going to get it.’ It felt good serving all of those points, especially against Charleston. “
In the first, Mattoon took control early leading 9-2 with the last five points on serves by Rankin, who had two aces during the run.
Charleston kept chipping away, climbing to within three, 11-8 after three points, including an ace by Schuette. The Greenwave led 18-15 when the Trojans scored eight straight points, including seven service points by Schutte. MHS made one final run as they got to within 24-23, when Charleston won the set.
“These girls just don’t quit,” said Beals. “We have been working a lot on positive self talk and working together as a team. I really think that they just dug deep and they knew that they could come back. We have been working on serve receive in practice and they stayed with it and were able to get on top.”
In the second set, Mattoon led 13-9 when they scored seven straight points, starting with a kill. Rhine served six straight points for a 20-9 advantage. CHS did not get closer than six the rest of the way.
“Our offense wasn’t good in the first set,” said Quick. “We handed them nine or 10 errors just in the second half of the first set. We were behind our hits and we couldn’t pull ourselves out of the funk. Our first set was nowhere near close to what we can do as a team. So glad they could pull it together and get those two and three sets to win.”
Mattoon won despite having 11 aces and nine service errors.
“That is something that we had the same deal in Effingham last week,” said Quick. “I don’t know if it is the court difference or what, but we have been struggling with serves. It grinds my ears because we were just handing out points like cash. I preach to the girls all of the time we have got to take care of the things we have control of which means serving errors and hitting errors. We can minimize our errors and maximize our strong rotations. We are going to be just fine.”
Charleston had two aces and 10 service errors.
“Sometimes the plays just kind of build upon themselves and you get stuck a little bit and you get yourself in too big of a whole to come back,” said Beals. “They still kept fighting. They are working together a lot better than they were a couple of weeks ago. They were trying to pick each other up”
CHS had to make an adjustment as Macey Hetzel got sick and didn’t play the final set.
“She is a fantastic leader on our team,” said Beals. “She played front row and back row. WE had a great player step in, but that leadership Hetzel provides is something that is just hard to reproduce.”
Quick made a little adjustment that helped the team as she started Ashlynne Kuhn in the front row rather than Sarah Rankin.
“We have been working really hard on moving the blocker to the other side of the net around a lot,” said Quick. “We flipped our middles a little bit. Sarah does such a beautiful job of calling three and slides. She is all over the front of that net. She is super effective when we only have two hitters and we are running a 5-1. The flip helped us a lot.”
As for the breast cancer research fundraiser Quick said, “This is a long-rooted tradition for our two programs.To be able to continue to do this as a coach rather than a player, for me, is just really meaningful. I love that the two programs have continued this event and am hoping that it helps people in need. “
CHARLESTON: stats were unavailable at press time
MATTOON: Sophia Rhine 3 aces, 6 digs, 17 assists;; Malea Niemerg 1 ace, 3 digs; Jada Cobb 1 ace, 6 digs; Lily Ghere 1 ace, 6 kills, 12 digs, 1 assist; Sarah Rankin 3 aces, 2 digs, 2 kills; Ashlynne Kuhn 1 ace,7 digs, 1 kill; Ella Laster 1 kill, 2 assists, 7 digs;; Ryan Smith 4 assists, 1 dig; Jessica Evans 9 kills, 10 digs; Nevaeh Laster 5 kills, 7 digs; Gabi Ray 1 dig
JV: Mattoon def. Charleston 22-25, 25-22, 15-8
Freshmen: Mattoon def. Charleston 21-18, 10-21, 15-13