VOLLEYBALL: Manteno makes quick work of Coal City
MANTENO — Coal City gave Manteno a fight during the Manteno Classic two weeks ago in a three-set loss.
This time around, Coal City didn’t give itself much of a chance.
The errors piled up as fast as the points, and Manteno took home a straight-set victory (25-16, 25-16) against the Coalers on Tuesday.
“It’s a conference matchup, so that’s motivation enough for our girls,” Manteno coach Cheryl Davis said. “[Coal City] is towards the top of the Interstate Eight along with us and Herscher. We put our best foot forward and got the win.”
Manteno never trailed in the opening set as it jumped out to a quick 8-4 lead behind a pair of kills from Braelyn Bertrand.
Coal City edged back into the game but still trailed 11-8 after two kills from Blaire Harseim.
The Coalers continued to hang out despite three straight kills from Kaycie Wenzel that put Manteno ahead 16-12. But the wheels fell off, as hitting errors, serving errors and miscommunication gave Manteno the first-set win.
The cycle continued in the second set, with Manteno going to Wenzel and Alyse Crowe for kills and staying sharp defensively.
The Coalers stayed afloat and ran their offense early through Megan Norris and Brooke Chapman through the first 15 points of the match.
However, with Manteno leading 16-12, the Coalers’ hitting mistakes haunted them once again to seal the victory down the stretch.
“Our passing and serve receive were much better tonight,” Davis said. “Those were the two main areas we worked on in practice. Additionally, we served much more aggressively, and I think it took [Coal City] out of their game a little bit.”
Down to the wire
A lot has been made about the potential of this Manteno team, and rightfully so, with the level of experience it has under its belts.
However, it’s the less-experienced players in the middle in sophomores Elena Gomez and Reese Bachus who are having a major effect on the Panthers’ front line.
“They’re getting a lot of work playing in the sophomore games then in the varsity games, and the progress is showing,” Davis said. “Their swings and blocking are much better, and that comes with experience. They’re not afraid of a challenge, and they do their jobs very well.”
However, with a fist full of games left in the regular season, don’t mention anything about tournaments. There’s still one thing to play for before Manteno’s focus shifts to postseason play.
“Getting through these last couple weeks is the most important thing,” Davis said. “I’m not even thinking about tournaments right now because we still have something to play for, and that’s a conference championship. There’s still more work that we have to do in practice, and we’re getting our skills to where they need to be.”
Wenzel led the way for Manteno with nine kills and seven digs, followed by Brandi Woods’ nine-assist, eight-dig night.
Alyse Crowe finished with five digs and four kills, Amanda Crowley added six assists and three digs, and Bertrand powered three kills.
In the back row, Jackie Kasalko and Sariah Schulteis had eight and seven digs, respectively.
For Coal City, Brooke Chapman finished with 11 assists and three digs.
Harseim added six digs and four kills, and Ali Brancato and Luci Hakey chipped in six digs apiece.
Manteno is back in action Tuesday at Westmont. Coal City travels to Reed-Custer on Tuesday as well.