FRONTENAC — The Frontenac High School volleyball team was crowned as CNC Champions after a pair of wins on Tuesday on its home floor.
After narrowly defeating Girard in game one, the Raiders overcame a lot of adversity to grab a win against St. Mary’s Colgan in come-back fashion.
“This is awesome and it’s great for this group,” FHS head coach Cassie Rhuems said. “We have 10 senior, and they put in the hard work all season long. We took a big loss on Saturday, and I challenged them to respond and win when it counted, and that’s what they did tonight.”
In addition to winning the CNC, it was also senior night for the Raiders, which added to an already emotional night.
The Frontenac seniors are Julia Falletti, Kaylee Hogard, Gwen Smalley, Kamryn Osborn, Kayla Meyer, Sydney Fields, Sarah Lundberg, Shelby Blythe, Rayna Bulot and Kaylee Harper.
“I can’t say enough about these kids, they’re a very special group” Rhuems said. “The longer you coach, the more you realize how fortunate you are to get to spend time with kids and when you have kids like these 10, it’s just a blessing. They all work hard, they love the team, they love each other and they all want to do what’s best for the team. When we step on the court, it’s like we’re a family.”
The Raiders’ backs were against the wall in match two against Colgan, having lost the first set 25-21, but they rallied back to win the last two in a dramatic victory 25-12 and 25-20.
“I think that you just have to remain confident, and I think you just have to understand that that’s just part of the game,” Rheums said. “You give up a few points here and there, and the momentum shifts pretty easy. I think if you believe in your teammates, and you believe in yourself, you find a way to win and that’s exactly what they did tonight.”
Tied up at a set apiece, the Frontenac momentum carried over into game three.
The Panthers scored the opening point of the set on a kill by Allie Evans, but the Raiders ripped off eight consecutive points to go up 8-3, with kills coming from Bailey Rhuems and Lundberg.
Colgan cut the deficit to 8-4 after scoring three consecutive points, but the Raiders posted four consecutive points, including a kill by Blythe, to go up 12-4.
It looked as if Frontenac was about to pull away, but SMC went on a 7-1 run, with kills from Kenzie Venneman, Marci VanBecelaere and Grace VanBecelaere to come to within 15-13.
Frontenac again pulled away, outscoring the Panthers 6-2 to go up 21-15, but the Panthers didn’t go away easy.
What was a six-point lead, shrunk to 23-20, thanks to an ace by Kamree Pace and kills from Grace VanBecelaere, Emily Paterni and Emily Dechant.
The Raiders held on to win however, scoring the final two points on a kill by Harper and an SMC error.
“Frontenac ended up digging us up,” SMC head coach Cathy Oplotnik said. “We were hitting well, but they dug us up and we just got behind.”
Harper was the offensive catalyst, with 13 kills and nine blocks.
Blythe also came up big, notching nine kills and 12 blocks.
Grace VanBecelaere was the offensive leader, contributing 10 kills.
Emily Dechant finished close behind with nine kills and one assist.
GHS split the night, losing the first game against Frontenac 2-1, but bouncing back to take the second over Colgan 2-1.
“We were pretty flat tonight,” GHS head coach Lori Ferguson said. “We didn’t pass the ball particularly well. We did play one good game against Colgan and we really hit, blocked and served the ball well. The rest of the games, there were a few individual standouts, but it’s pretty late in the season to be making some of the poor decisions that we’re making. We’re going to have to get back into the gym in the next two days and really hammer down on some fundamentals.”
The Trojans dropped the first match against Frontenac 2-1, losing the first set 25-22, winning the second 25-19 and losing the third 25-20.
In match two against Colgan, Girard won the match 2-1, winning the first set 25-7, losing the second set 25-16 and winning the third 25-21.
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.