VOLLEYBALL: GALESBURG REGIONAL

Tom Batters
Richwoods senior Kelli Dunne.

Peoria Notre Dame volleyball coach Jim Smalley said he wants one more shot at Richwoods, and he just might get it at the Galesburg Regional, which starts tomorrow night.

Notre Dame plays Dunlap and Richwoods plays Galesburg in the first round. The winners will play for the Regional title Saturday.

Dunlap is the No. 1 seed, but Smalley likes his team’s chances to advance.

“We’re playing well. We’re still having some trouble finishing off the close matches, but, overall, we are playing together and we have some players who are capable of having good games.”

On Oct. 7, Notre Dame lost a spirited, back-and-forth match to Richwoods. The match locked up the conference title for the Lady Knights. Smalley has not forgotten how close his team came to beating the conference champions.

“I’d like to put it to rest,” he said. “I’d like to get one more shot at them, and finish it off this time.”

Notre Dame also took Galesburg to three games before losing a close match earlier in the season.

“We’ve stayed with some of the better teams, but we’ve made some silly mistakes in the end,” he said.

Smalley said junior Ashley Voudrie, who has 67 aces this year, and sophomore Kristin Itschner, give his team a potent one-two punch.

“Ashley is explosive. She has a good, hard serve that can cause problems for another team. Kristin is more quiet. She puts the ball along the sideline really well.”

Dunlap won 22 games despite losing two of its top setters to injuries at the start of the season.

First-year coach Pat Garst changed the lineup around and promoted some players from junior varsity. The Lady Eagles finished strong and gave conference powerhouse Metamora a tough run.

Junior Claire Peterson, who made the all-conference team as a sophomore last year, is near the top of the conference in just about every category this year.

On Oct. 14, after a decisive victory over Pekin, Dunlap senior Laura Mathes said, “We have gotten closer as a team, and we’re playing really well right now. If we continue to work hard, we can win that Regional.”

Richwoods is looking for redemption after losing to Galesburg in the Dunlap Regional final last year.

Experienced hitters Kelli Dunne and Shyla Nott, along with junior Cora Nott have benefited from precision passing from junior Krista Moery, who has compiled plenty of assists during the second half of the season.

“Any of the four teams can come out on top,” Smalley said. “It’s a competitive Regional without one clear favorite.”

The winner of the Galesburg Regional will advance to the Washington Sectional, which starts Nov. 4.