MONETT – Six years ago on Oct. 29, the Reeds Spring High School volleyball team won a district championship at Monett High School.
The Lady Wolves marked that occasion in the perfect way on Tuesday night.
They won the Class 3 District 12 Tournament … at Monett High School.
Reeds Spring kept its season going with a run to the championship, knocking off Cassville and Seneca in straight sets, then outlasting top-seeded Mt. Vernon in three sets in the finals.
It has third-year coach Molly Illum and everyone affiliated with the program loving life these days.
“It was super-cool, it means a lot because whenever you take over a program, you talk about building or rebuilding, and you always have to see something to say that you are building or rebuilding,” Illum said.
“Not necessarily that we needed to rebuild a lot, but it does show that we’re getting better each year. It’s nice to be able to say that we’re seeing a little bit more growth each year. It feels real good.”
Reeds Spring advanced to Saturday’s sectional round and will face the winner of the District 9 Tournament.
The District 9 winner – which was to be decided on Thursday night – was down to Kirksville, Chillicothe, Marshall and Mexico.
The District 9 winner will be the host for the sectional matches, then the quarterfinals later Saturday. The other teams at that sectional will be California and reigning Class 3 state champion Logan-Rogersville.
The simple fact that her team was back in the gym and practicing on the day after the district tournament was a big deal for Illum and her team.
She reflected on that during a brief visit on Wednesday.
“Just to be in the gym today, and I just told them to look around, and said, ‘We’re at practice.’ ” Illum said. “It’s an icing-on-the-cake practice, and they had so much energy.
The Lady Wolves also overcame some significant adversity in their postseason run.
Sophomore middle hitter Brynn Hogan suffered a high ankle sprain last week, with further examination revealing a broken bone. Fellow sophomore Jade Watson, who has seen limited playing time on the varsity this season, stepped in as the full-time middle hitter for the last regular-season match, and the team hasn’t missed a beat.
“She has kind of made it her own,” Illum said. “You don’t know, when an injury happens, what the reaction will be. Will they freak out or are they going to step up? And she stepped up, right into it.”
Illum credited the play of her team’s four seniors – Kamryn Hopper, Ellie Silvius, Carley Reeves-Eakins and Aspen Romeiser – with keeping the team engaged and leading the way through a long season.
“I challenged them all, to put the team on your back,” Illum said. “They did a fantastic job, emotionally, physically, mentally. The seniors have been with me now for four years, and it was fun to see what they could do.
“It was fun for them.”
Reeds Spring scored eight of the final nine points in the final set against Mt. Vernon to advance, winning by set scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-16. Reeves-Eakins had 10 kills to lead the Lady Wolves, with Silvius and Bella Fuller adding nine kills each and Amarah Porter finishing with 27 assists.
Reeds Spring didn’t have much trouble reaching the district finals, cruising to two-set victories over Cassville (25-4, 25-12) in Monday’s opening-round match, then cruising to a 25-9, 25-20 victory over Seneca in the semifinals on Tuesday.
“The girls just came out ready to play,” Illum said. “I think we’re playing at a really high level. The seniors are stepping up, and that’s really fun.
“It’s pretty fun right now – we’re clicking on a lot of levels.”
Hollster’s stay at the district tournament ended in Monday’s opening round, with a three-set loss to Aurora.
The Lady Tigers won the opening set, 25-21, and held a 17-11 lead in the second set, but Aurora rallied for a 25-23 victory in the second set, then ended the match with a 25-15 third-set win.
Aurora senior Brooke Bellamy took over for the Lady Houns at key moments in keying the comeback.
Bellamy had five kills and a block as Aurora scored 14 of the final 20 points in the second set. In the deciding third set, she had five kills, three blocks and a service ace to help send Aurora into the semifinals.
“Some of our inexperience showed, and we just couldn’t battle back on certain things,” Hollister coach Alexis Mitchell said. “She’s a quality player and definitely got us frazzled.
“Once we broke it, it was good to get out of it, but we just lived a little too long in the frazzled state.”
The Lady Tigers showed signs of growth in their third season under Mitchell. Hollister finished with a 9-20 record in 2018, then finished 15-15-2 this season.
“I’m still early in my career, but this is definitely the best team that I’ve been able to coach so far, and it’s difficult to see it end,” Mitchell said. “Super proud of our seniors and the leadership that they showed.
“I’m proud of the growth, to go from nine wins last year to 15 is super growth for us, and we hope to continue to go in that direction.”