ROXANA – Niah Bevolo, Taylor Westfall and Abby Palen are playing in the Roxana Volleyball Tournament for the final time this year.
So the Roxana seniors hope to celebrate a championship.
“It will be huge,” said Bevolo, a setter.
The Shells started tournament play on Monday by picking up victories over Madison and Civic Memorial. Roxana cruised to a 25-3, 25-7 victory, then pulled off a 25-21, 24-26, 15-6 win over Civic Memorial to win the Pool D title.
“It’s a good way to start the year and hopefully, it carries over into Saturday,” Roxana coach Mike McKinney said.
By winning its pool, Roxana will play the Pool A champion 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the tournament semifinals. Calhoun, Bunker Hill and Dupo make up Pool A and will be playing matches on Tuesday.
Last year, the Shells finished 3-2 in tournament play.
Bevolo said she’s pleased her team started its season with a pair of wins over Madison and Civic Memorial in its tournament, which is now in its eighth year.
“It’s amazing,” Bevolo said. “It’s the best feeling ever coming in and being so strong.”
Civic Memorial, which is competing in the Roxana Tournament for the first time, finished 1-1 in pool play. The Eagles will play the second-place finisher of Pool A at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Annika Ochs had 16 digs and Sydney Marshall finished with 12 assists and Kennedy Carnes had five kills in the losing cause for the Eagles, who have a match against East Alton-Wood River on Thursday.
“This was a tough loss,” Civic Memorial coach Amanda Biggs said. “We made way too many errors. We were not swinging and we were not executing on our side. It showed. It’s the beginning of the season. We have some kinks to work out."
Marquette Catholic finished second in Pool C with a 1-1 record and it will play the second-place finisher of Pool B at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The Explorers lost to Mt. Olive in three games and beat Father McGivney in two games.
Against Civic Memorial on Monday, sophomore Taylor Jackson led the Shells with eight kills, four of them in the third game.
“She came in clutch with a couple of really important plays,” Bevolo said. “She basically gave us the lead in that last game. I’m really proud of her. She’s just a sophomore, so she’s doing great.”
Also for Roxana, junior Braeden Lackey had seven kills and Westfall finished with six.
Roxana came back from a 5-1 deficit to win the first game. The Shells led 21-16 in the second game before the Eagles came back with a 10-3 run to send the match to a third game. In the final game, Roxana stormed to a 12-2 lead and never looked back.
"We knew we had a tough opponent in CM," McKinney said. "Everytime we play them every year, it’s back and forth and knocking heads. We just had confidence that we can get it done and we were really aggressive and we ended up winning it.”
McKinney said he was pleased with the effort from all three of his seniors.
“Niah runs our offense and we can’t get it done on hitting if it wasn’t for her,” the Roxana coach said. “Abby did a great job on serving and she helped start the offense on the back row. Taylor is one of the smartest at-the-net players I’ve had with the way she uses her hands.”
Bevolo, Westfall and Palen are among the key returning players from last year’s team that finished 15-20. Bevolo led the Shells with 324 assists, Westfall was third on the team in kills with 112 and Palen finished with 65 digs.
ROXANA LADY SHELLS VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Aug. 22 at Roxana High
Pool C results
Mt. Olive def. Marquette Catholic 18-25, 25-15, 16-14
Mt. Olive def. Father McGivney 25-10, 25-8
Marquette Catholic def. Father McGivney 25-10, 25-19
Pool D results
Civic Memorial def. Madison 25-4, 25-14
Roxana def. Madison 25-3, 25-7
Roxana def. Civic Memorial 25-21, 24-26, 15-6
Calhoun vs. Bunker Hill (Pool A, large gym); Jerseyville vs. Gillespie (Pool B, small gym)
Dupo vs. Calhoun (Pool A, large gym); Gillespie vs. East Alton-Wood River (Pool B, small gym)
Jerseyville vs. Wood River (Pool B, large gym); Dupo vs. Bunker Hill (Pool A, small gym)