St. Elmo Set To Compete In Super-Sectional

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Published on November 2 2012 2:32 pm
Last Updated on November 2 2012 2:32 pm
Written by Millie Lange

ST. ELMO – It’s just been one big smile after another for Coach Elise Asher and her St. Elmo High School volleyball team. Now the squad is just an all-out, overjoyed laugh away from competing in the Class 1A State Tournament next weekend.

All that’s standing in the way is the next opponent, Valmeyer at 4 p.m. Saturday for the Valmeyer Super-Sectional and the chance to be one of four teams left standing at Normal’s Redbird Arena November 9-10.

“It’s been a learning process all along,” said Asher, in her 17th year as head of the Eagles. “The kids are still working hard and making adjustments. The one thing they’ve worked on all season long is doing their job each play. Some kids are defenders and some serve really well.  Each one has a job to do and they do it well.”

The starting unit includes five seniors and one freshman.

“Our setter is Perry Manley and she runs the offense and is our offensive aggressor. She does that and does it well.

“We have three main hitters. Savannah Feezel leads us offensively. She set a school record in kills in a season, tied the school record in kills in a match three times with 19. She’s broken the school record in blocks and has the kill percentage school record. She has really come on this year and does an amazing job.

“Katie Stites is our other middle. When Savannah goes back to serve, Katie shores up the front line. Her main goal was 95 percent serving and 25 percent aces and she’s done that all season long. She really serves well.

“Megan Maxey was an outside hitter her whole life and has made the transfer to right side. But she is primarily a blocker. Her job is to run the offensive attack from the right side. She embraced that role. It’s made us the team we are by her willing to make that move.
“Gabby Moore is our lone freshman and doesn’t play like a freshman. Oftentimes she is our voice. She and Heather Siebert are interchangeable. They are within a kill of each other and 95 percent serving. They get a few kills each match but their jobs are to pass and serve well. That’s what they do and take a lot of pride in that.

“My other senior on the team, who is a role player, is Whitley Loewe. She may play for a point or two. She goes on the floor when somebody else is struggling or I need to talk to someone. She’ll run out there in the back row.  She’s a good passer and an amazing teammate. The kids just love her. She always keeps things light and has a story to tell. As a senior that’s sometimes hard, playing or not. But again she is like the rest of the team, embracing her role. She’s not a star but we’re where we’re at because of the skills she brings to us.”

St. Elmo sports a 29-9 record.  They won the Silver Flight at the National Trail Conference Tournament, were third at the Mattoon Tournament, second in the Flora Tourney and second in the Egyptian-Illini Conference.

“It’s just neat how the pieces have come together this year,” said Asher, whose squads have won four regional titles in her 17 years in 2003-04, 2008-09, 2010-11 and this year. They have gone no farther than a regional crown.

“I think one of our strengths is that we don’t give up,” continued Asher. “We can be down and be in a hole but the girls just keep fighting and they find a way to make something good happen. Other strengths are their ability to communicate with one another and the fact they’re positive with each other and supportive. When one breaks a record or makes all-tournament they lift each other up and recognize each other for doing something special. They are not jealous and they are just a cohesive unit.”

Valmeyer also will be making its first appearance in super-sectional action. The Pirates have won six regional titles including five straight.

“I know Valmeyer is in the Cahokia Conference and Lebanon beat them this year,” said Asher. “That’s who we just played. I know they have a couple really strong hitters. It’s really about us doing what we do.  We just have to control our 30-by-30 square.”

Hopefully the Eagles will do just that, continue to make school history and have a lot of smiles after super-sectional action Saturday.