OTTAWA – Minooka out-killed Rock Island 24-19 Thursday at the Class 4A Ottawa Girls Volleyball Regional, but the Indians made 12 hitting errors to the Rocks’ four.
The ability of the Rock Island defense to frustrate Minooka’s offense into mistakes may have made the difference in a 25-20, 27-25 Rock Island championship-match victory. Rock Island, which won its first regional title, also kept any of the Indians’ big hitters from doing too much damage; nobody from Minooka had more than six kills.
“The hole in the defense was in the middle back, and if you’re putting up a block, it’s taking away that,” Minooka coach Chris Hoelscher said. “Our hitters were trying to go around the block and do that, but their defenders were right there.”
Minooka led 20-19 in Game 1 and did not score another point. Rock Island got a sideout block from Hannah Ohlsen to tie it in front of five straight service points from Becca Thomson. A Lindsey Steger kill clinched the final point.
A service run of equal length by the Indians appeared as though it may be of equal importance in Game 2. Skyler Day had two aces among her five points that turned a 16-14 deficit into a 19-16 lead for the Indians. It was part of a big finish from Day, who was held without a kill during the first game but had six in the second.
“I definitely knew that I had to go back there and get some points. You miss a serve and it just completely defeats your momentum,” Day said. “Where their block wasn’t, their defense was. They were really good with movement and just getting to every ball.”
Rock Island remained behind or tied until a Day kill on a Stacey Perinar service point gave Minooka a 24-22 lead. From there, a Steger sideout kill and two Courtney Smith points put the Rocks ahead 25-24. Day kept the Indians alive with a kill, but another Steger sideout kill was followed by the winning service point by Thomson. On it, a Day spike was returned over the net by the Rocks and allowed to fall in by the Indians, who thought the ball would land out of bounds.
Minooka went 21-11 overall.
“I was just happy that I got to spend my season with the players, cause I love every one of them,” Minooka senior Brenna Perinar said.