Holy Angels' Ellie Koontz (8) and Megan Meckey (5) go up for a block in the second set. Koontz led the Stars with 17 kills as they battled back from an 2-0 deficit to win in five sets. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
For Holy Angels senior right hitter Ellie Koontz, Tuesday’s match was special before the first serve.
Prior to the match, Koontz was honored for recently getting her 1,000th career kill. The celebration included her receiving a signed volleyball and a bouquet of roses.
But when the match against conference foe Concordia Academy ended, it was an extra special night. After her team dropped the first two sets, Koontz helped lead the Stars to a thrilling 16-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 15-12 win.
The Beacons (16-8, 6-1) jumped out to a strong start thanks to their two freshmen stars. Brooke Weichbrodt facilitated a strong offense with 61 assists while outside hitter Kira Fallert took many of Eisfelder’s sets and gave her team 16 kills.
With his team down 2-0 and on the verge of losing its first Tri-Metro Conference match of the season, Holy Angels coach Tom Emanuel needed to find a way to get his team back in the match.
“We needed to calm down and go back to the fundamentals,” Emanuel said. “We had lost our mental edge. We had to get them mentally ready and sell them on the fact this match was going to five sets.”
Soon after the sales pitch, Emanuel’s team quickly turned it around. The Stars (17-2, 7-0) picked up a tight third set and roared ahead to a 17-9 lead in the fourth set. Soon, Holy Angels found itself tied in the match and headed into the fifth set.
The momentum carried on with the Stars into the decisive set. After going point for point with Concordia Academy, which is ranked 10th in the Class 2A coaches' poll, Holy Angels emerged and took the match.
When looking at the Stars comeback, it started with Holy Angels’ seniors. Koontz was consistent offensive threat for her team, picking up 17 kills in the win. She was often set up by setter Emma Benz, who had 50 assists on the night.
Koontz’s 1,000 career kills are just part of her impressive resume with the Stars. Her strong play has earned her a scholarship to play at Marquette next year.
“She’s been our best player each of the four years she’s been with us,” Emanuel said. “She’s just such a humble kid. I’m so happy for what she’s been able to accomplish now and what she will continue do going forward.”
Koontz is part of a five-player senior class that has seen Holy Angels reach new heights on the floor. Last year, the Stars made their way to the state tournament for the first time in more than five years.
“This whole class has more than 100 wins in their time here,” Emauel said. “It’s a good core that has helped put us on the map.
For Concordia Academy, there’s been plenty of recent success to look on. The Beacons were the runner-up in Class 2A a year ago.
But lately, it’s been rough for Concordia Academy. Seven of the Beacons’ losses have come in the past two weeks. This was the first, however, to happen within conference play.
The Stars’ win puts Holy Angels in the driver’s seat as they are now a full game ahead of Concordia Academy. It also gives the Stars more of a chance at earning the No. 1 seed in Section 4, which features a strong foe in Hill-Murray.
While conference titles are nice, some might opt for a section or state championship. That’s something anyone can recognize, including Concordia Academy coach Kim Duis.
“We played well tonight and it could’ve gone either way,” Duis said. “So now, it looks like they’ll get the conference title. But now we just have to go ahead looking for those section and state titles.”
Holy Angels sophomore Julie Mitchell (11) sends the ball past Concordia Academy defenders Sarah McTaggart (10) and Arika Robinson (12). The Stars battled back to defeat the Beacons in five sets on Tuesday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
The battle for first place in the Tri-Metro conference certainly lived up to the hype.
After being down 2-0 in the match, Holy Angels came roaring back to defeat Concordia Academy 16-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 15-12.
The Stars (17-2, 7-0) were led by strong performances from two seniors. Setter Emma Benz led the team with 50 assists, and right hitter Ellie Koontz had a team-high 17 kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Link also contributed 15 kills in the comeback win. For the Beacons (16-8, 6-1), a pair of freshmen got Concordia Academy out to a 2-0 lead in the match. Concordia Academy is No. 10 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll
Setter Elise Eisfelder had 61 assists in the loss while outside hitter Kira Fallert had 16 kills.
Freshman Kira Fallert makes a diving dig for Concordia Academy. The Beacons are ranked 10th in this week's Class 2A poll but fell to the Stars in a battle to stay atop of the Tri-Metro Conference. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine
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Ellie Koontz soars high and makes the kill. Koontz was honored before the game for reaching 1,000 career kills at Holy Angels. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine