WINDSOR – The third time was not the charm for Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg Wednesday in a Class 1A sectional championship volleyball match against fellow National Trail Conference foe Altamont.
Altamont, which had swept the Hatchets in the two previous meetings, did it again 25-16, 25-12. They moved to 31-7-1 and won their first-ever sectional title.
"The fact we were playing them for a third time got on my nerves more than the girls I think," said Altamont coach Scott Klingler. "The girls came prepared and they wanted it. It was a good game for them. The girls played well."
Altamont never trailed in the match. In the second set, Taylor Mette served the first five points, including two aces. WSS trialed 7-4 after a service point by Jessica Rauch. WSS trailed 9-5 when the Lady Indians scored six of the next seven points, including three by Rachel Jackman. A WSS hitting error gave Altamont a 15-6 lead. WSS's Brianna Hewing served a point as Mackenzie Brown had a block. The Hatchets didn't get closer than eight points the rest of the way. The match ended with a kill by Jackman, who had a team-high nine in the match.
In total, Altamont had eight aces in the match, including three apiece by Mette and Brooke Runge.
"They are a nice fast team, strong team," said WSS coach Ronda Schlechte, whose team finished 25-15, "They have multiple hitters. They are a more well-rounded team. It was going to take a lot to get past this night. I feel like they made more adjustments than we did. They were tipping us to death. We worked on that Tuesday in practice, but it just didn't follow through to tonight. Altamont is a very strong team. They are quick and we couldn't follow that quickness."
The Altamont student section stormed the court after the victory and posed for pictures with the team.
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Altamont began the match scoring nine of the first 10 points. Olivia Eckhardt served three points, including an ace for a 4-0 lead. After a hitting error gave the Hatchets a point, Kassidy Pemberton had a kill. Eckhardt served four consecutive points, including an ace for a 9-1 lead as the Hatchets struggled with receiving serves. Pemberton served four straight points, including an ace for a 15-3 lead.
WSS battled back to within six, 17-11 as Brown and Adi McCray served two straight points and got help from one of a team-leading seven kills by Mackinzee Reynolds. That was as close as they would get. Metter served four points, including an ace, and the set ended on a tip by Jackman.
Altamont mixed up its tips and kills to help them in victory.
"We mixed it up," said Klingler. "I asked the girls Tuesday night if they were ready. They said, 'We didn't work this hard on Monday night to not show up tonight.' I started coaching four years ago and we have been working for this. I had the juniors when they were in eighth grade. It is great to win the sectional. I absolutely love it."
Pemberton had seven kills for Altamont, who won the NTC regular season and tournament title. Pemberton led in digs with five, while sophomore Ellie McManaway had 20 assists.
Rauch led the Hatchets in digs with five, while Brown and Claire Moomaw had one block each and Hannah Hayes had 11 assists.
"From where we started the season, I didn't expect to be in the sectional championship," said Schlechte. "That was not at all on my radar. Getting third in the Mount Pulaski Tournament, I didn't see that coming. We have a lot of pluses from this season with people calling it a rebuilding year. The girls have been playing really well lately and I think it will help us end the season on a good note even though we lost. It is something we can look back in the future and say, 'We did it."
Altamont will play in the Red Hill supersectional at Bridgeport at 7 p.m. Friday against Norris City-Omaha-Enfield, a 25-22, 25-20 winner over Woodlawn in the Crab Orchard Sectional championship.