This was not any ordinary regular season volleyball match.
“That was intense,” said Richwoods senior Krista Moery after the Lady Knights beat Peoria Notre Dame Oct. 7 at Richwoods. “The crowd was a big factor. There was a lot of pressure for us to win it for the home fans. But, it was good pressure. We thrived on it.”
Richwoods stormed out to a 15-5 lead and won the first game, 25-13. The Lady Irish came back to take the second game, 25-20, which set up a dramatic third set. Richwoods won, 25-23, in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
Many Richwoods students packed the front rows and cheered the Lady Knights after every point.
The final game went back and forth, and the Lady Irish took the lead, 23-22, after a controversial out-of-bounds call that appeared to go in favor of the Lady Knights, but was called in Notre Dame’s favor.
Richwoods held on to win and, after a win against Manual Thursday, ensured its 11th straight Mid-State 6 Conference championship.
“We really wanted this one,” said Richwoods senior Kelli Dunne, who had 12 kills against ND. “After that questionable call, we knew we had to get it together. We kept our composure and finished strong.”
Dunne was the beneficiary of several precise passes from Moery, who had 28 assists.
“Krista did a nice job spreading the ball around,” said Richwoods coach Cheryl Forgason. “She made the defense work.”
Moery said she tried to get the ball to the “hot hand,” which was Dunne for most of the first two games. In the final game, she made several passes to Shyla Nott and Cora Nott, which resulted in thundering kills for easy points.
“There’s a lot to it. I try to look at where the blockers are positioned on the other side, and then I try to set up our offense so we will have an advantage,” Moery said. “We have some great hitters who can finish if they get a good pass.”
Forgason said she was pleased that her players got off to such a strong start, but they had a “communication breakdown” in the second game.
Ashley Voudrie, who had six kills, three aces and 10 digs, led Notre Dame’s comeback in the second game.
“She has an outstanding serve, and she made some amazing cuts from the outside,” said Shyla Nott. “But, we knew she would be tough. We knew we would have to try to stop her of we were going to win.”
Kristin Itschner and Elle Bielfeldt had several tough digs for the Lady Irish in the final game.
“They brought up some balls that not many players would be able to handle,” Forgason said.
Both teams wore pink shirts as part of “Volley For the Cure,” which raised more than $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
“We’re proud of that,” Forgason said. “Both schools did a great job raising money.”
Richwoods is the No. 3 seed in the Galesburg Regional. Dunlap is the No. 1 seed. Peoria Notre Dame is the No. 4 seed.
Dunlap will play Notre Dame at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 in the first round. Richwoods will play No. 2-seed Galesburg after that game. The two winners will play for the Regional title at 7 p.m. Nov. 1.
The winner of the Galesburg Regional will advance to the Washington Sectional, which starts Nov. 4.
Dunlap won four games and finished second in the Dixon Tournament over the weekend.
“That regional is loaded with good teams,” Forgason said. “It will be a challenge.”