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St. John Lutheran wins first regional since 1979

  • Pictured are, back row from left, Kaleigh Masterson, Jessica Whittom, Josie Kattenbraker, Peyton Clendenin, Reese Chandler and head coach Andrea Luthy. Front row, from left, Marci Naeger, Kendall Williams, Juliette Abernathy and Taylor Cartwright.

    Pictured are, back row from left, Kaleigh Masterson, Jessica Whittom, Josie Kattenbraker, Peyton Clendenin, Reese Chandler and head coach Andrea Luthy. Front row, from left, Marci Naeger, Kendall Williams, Juliette Abernathy and Taylor Cartwright.
    Pete Spitler/Herald Tribune

  • St. John Lutheran's Reese Chandler puts up an attack during the Hornets' regional title victory over Prairie du Rocher. St. John won its first title since 1979 in the 25-20, 27-25 win.

    St. John Lutheran's Reese Chandler puts up an attack during the Hornets' regional title victory over Prairie du Rocher. St. John won its first title since 1979 in the 25-20, 27-25 win.
    Pete Spitler/Herald Tribune

 
By Pete Spitler
Editor@heraldtrib.com
updated: 3/20/2017 11:50 AM

The drought is over for the St. John Lutheran Hornets.

St. John (20-2) gave up the early lead in both sets, but battled back in each to take a 25-20, 27-25 sweep of Prairie du Rocher last Friday and win its first SIJHSAA regional title since 1979.

The Hornets also recently defeated Prairie du Rocher to win the Okaw Valley Conference title.

"These girls don't quit," said St. John coach Andrea Luthy, in her fifth season with the Hornets. "They have fight in them and they're not going to stop until there's 25 points on the board."

Prairie du Rocher held a 4-0 lead in the first set and a 5-0 advantage in the second, but St. John kept chipping away. After tying the first set at 5, the Hornets won on a 16-8 run to force a Prairie du Rocher timeout.

St. John later extended its lead to 10, 24-14, before the Hawks staged a mini-rally.

"We haven't lost a game since the second of February and (the players) just have fight in them, they've got drive," Luthy said.

The second set was a bit different. A kill by Reese Chandler tied the set at 16 for the Hornets, who then scored the next two points for an 18-16 advantage.

But Prairie du Rocher fought back for a 21-19 lead that St. John countered to tie at 21. The teams then fought a back-and-forth struggle until an attack by Prairie du Rocher's Samantha Roy went out of bounds to give the match, and the title, to the Hornets.

"To think the last regional (title), I wasn't even born," Luthy said. "So I've been wanting this for a really long time and this is a great group of girls to do it with."

St. John moved on to Saturday's SIJHSAA state tournament at Herrin High School. The Hornets will face Egyptian, which defeated Century (25-19, 24-26 and 15-13) in its own regional, in the first round at 1 p.m.

The winner of St. John/Egyptian will play at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the single-day tournament. The semifinal game will be played at 4:30 p.m., with the championship at 6 p.m.

"All of the players contributed to the Hornets' success," Luthy said. "Kendall Williams played a great game leading the team with assists, Reese Chandler, Josie Kattenbraker, and Peyton Clendenin dominated the front row with hits and Julliette Abernathy and Marci Naeger played a fantastic back row keeping the ball alive."