By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Missouri State High School Activities Association began allowing varsity volleyball teams to play best-of-5 matches this year.
Well, Valle Catholic certainly took advantage of that last week — winning a pair of five-set thrillers over tough squads from Perryville on Sept. 1 and Central (Park Hills) Sept. 3.
“It was an adjustment to play the five-set format primarily because we played five sets in each of the two matches during the week,” Valle Catholic head volleyball coach Nancy Fischer said. “If those matches had gone only three sets, I don’t know that we would have noticed a significant difference from playing ‘normal’ matches.”
Fischer said having adequate focus and mental toughness are the keys to success in the five-set format.
Miscues, and the pressure of playing its opener in front of the home crowd, were factors in the Perryville match.
But, the Warriors found resolve and won by scores of 25-21, 20-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-11.
Fischer said both Valle (2-0) and Central played exceptionally well on Thursday, which helped produce such a competitive affair from start to finish.
Valle overcame a two-set deficit to prevail by scores of 21-25, 15-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12 over Central.
Since the Warriors played two five-set matches, the final statistics are eye-popping to say the very least.
Valle d. Perryville in 5
Four-year starter Riley Siebert provided the Warriors with several pivotal swings in the fifth set, lifting her team past the pesky Pirates.
“We were looking to her for some senior leadership,” Fischer said, “and she delivered. At the same time, I think all of our players settled down late in the match, and as a team, we performed much better in all aspects of the game.”
Siebert peppered Perryville with 16 kills, and she produced a stellar .312 hitting percentage. However, as a team, the Warriors hit just .123. Hailey Weibrecht and Hannah Fowler contributed nine kills each.