The race to stay near the top of the Four Rivers Conference volleyball standings heated up this week.

Locally, Union, Pacific and St. Clair have fought to stay in contention to not fall too far behind leaders Hermann and New Haven.

Union (11-7, 2-1) picked up two wins this week, beating St. James and St. Clair (6-11-1, 1-3) in two sets apiece.

Union-St. Clair

The Lady ’Cats earned a huge win in St. Clair Thursday night, 28-26, 25-9.

“The first set was a great game,” said Union head Coach Angie Morris. “We started off strong but St. Clair came back and challenged us. They made some great plays and have some aggressive hitters. Allison Hinson has a great swing. It was stressful and we made some silly mistakes that cost us points at important times in the match. But we did not give up and continued to play hard and we ended up winning the first set.”

St. Clair Head Coach Ashley Mims said the score was tied 25-25 in the first game.

“We thought we took a 26-25 lead on a kill by Sam Deason, but the bottom official called her in the net,” Mims said. “Union went on to win the first set and the match. We played well in the first set, bit nothing worked for us in the second.”

Union picked up its play in the second game to win, 25-9.

“We got our timing down on the block and started to find the holes on the court and put the ball down,” Morris said. “Brooke Pope was outstanding again last night. I believe she recorded at least four aces in the second set. Aggressive serving was just one of her strong points last night. She was great at the net too with her block and attack.”

Morris also praised the play of Clare Stowe and Emily Schroeder, who had three aces apiece.

“Clare also remains a dominating force at the net,” Morris said.

Setters Rebeccah Kramer and Kaitlin Voss picked up the play as well.

“In the first set Kaitlin and Beccah had to work hard to get to the ball but they did a great job moving the ball around,” said Morris. “Overall I think the girls did a great job of staying focused and determined to win the game.”

Allison Hinson led St. Clair with seven kills and one block. Sam Deason added four kills and two blocks.

Abby Ruck collected two kills and two digs. Katelyn Guehne had two kills and one block. Miranda Murphy added five assists.

Morris reported Union won the JV and freshman matches as well.

Both Union and St. Clair will be back in action at the St. Clair Tournament Saturday.

Union-St. James

After suffering frustration last week, the Lady ’Cats recorded their second victory in as many days by sweeping St. James in Four Rivers Conference action, 25-14, 25-16.

“I’m very excited,” Morris said. “The girls played really hard tonight. We served aggressive, passed well and hit aggressive.”

In the first game, the Lady Tigers had trouble coping with Union’s serves.

Stowe served three aces in a row and Voss added two more aces as Union built up the lead to 13-9.

From there, Union continued to take advantage at the net with Lizzy Birkmann playing a key role.

“Lizzy was fantastic tonight,” Morris said. “She was on fire. I think she earned six or seven kills tonight. She just keeps improving in that spot and I’m proud with how far she’s come.”

In the second game, Schroeder’s serves proved to be too tough early and Maddy Weinhold served two aces as Union built up a 23-10 advantage.

However, that’s where the Lady ’Cats hit a wall. St. James rallied for six points before Union could score the final two.

“We let them creep back into it near the end of the second set,” Morris said. “Then they got serious again and started play again to finish it up.”

Union’s match-winning kill came when Rebeccah Kramer pushed the ball into the back corner, out of reach of the St. James defense but in play.

“Clare and Brooke  continue to do well,” Morris said. “Brooke is phenomenal at the net. Her serves are just awesome. They’re just solid players. Everyone tonight did a fantastic job.”

Union also won the junior varsity match. There was no freshman match.

St. Clair-Hermann

Making a trip to Hermann, St. Clair suffered a 25-4, 25-17 loss Tuesday to the Lady Bearcats (13-8-1, 4-0).

“When Hermann hits the ball over Sam Deason’s block, what can you do?” asked Mims. “Hermann has a great volleyball program.”

Jamie Gleeson paced Hermann with 11 kills and one block.

Cameron Hackmann added six kills and one block. Kirsten Leimkuehler registered five kills and four blocks. Emilie Diebal had four kills and one block.

Kali Stiers finished with 23 assists and two aces. Hayley Stiers had two aces, one kill and one block.

Deason had three kills and two blocks for St. Clair. Hinson added two kills. Macy Levvintre and Guehne both had one kill.

“The second game was more of what I would have expected from St. Clair. They played better defense and made us work a lot harder for our points,” said Hermann Head Coach Linda Lampkin. “I think they are headed in the right direction. I expect to see good things from them in the next few years.”