O’Fallon emerges as team to beat down south


Coach Joe Nesbit and his Belleville East Lancers

The O’Fallon Panthers under first-year coach Amy Sheehan are 9-0 and have emerged as the team to beat in Southern Illinois.

O’Fallon, led by Justin Hovick and Bryce Backus, edged Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville 26-25, 31-29 on March 29. Edwardsville was coming off a 25-20, 25-14 victory over Belleville East two nights earlier.

Last weekend, the Panthers went 5-0 to win the Rockwood Summit Tournament in Missouri.

The three Belleville schools have taken turns beating up an each other. Belleville West defeated East in three sets during the Belleville East Invitational on March 24, and two nights later, Belleville Althoff did the same thing to East after the Lancers won the first set.

East exacted some revenge last Saturday, however, defeating West 25-16, 28-26. Following the match, the District 201 rivals commemorated their 10th season of boys volleyball competition by holding their first-ever Alumni Game.

Edwardsville also made a rare visit to the Chicago area earlier this season, defeating Joliet Catholic and Bolingbrook but falling to Metea Valley and Lincoln-Way West to finish sixth at the Joliet West invitational.

As of Tuesday, O’Fallon is 4-0 in the Southwestern Conference, followed by Belleville East (6-3, 10-1), Edwardsville (8-5, 1-1), Belleville West (5-4, 2-2), Granite City (4-6, 1-1), East St. Louis (1-2, 1-2) and Alton (0-10, 0-3).

Meanwhile, non-Southwestern Conference schools Belleville Althoff is 4-1 and Metro East Lutheran is 4-7-1.

Looking ahead, Belleville East and O’Fallon meet on April 17, as do Belleville West and Edwardsville. Belleville West plays Belleville Althoff the following night.

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