Playing two state finalists and a recent rival was the perfect formula for new St. Francis Borgia Regional volleyball Head Coach CJ Steiger to see what he’s got for this season.
And, it looks like there’s work to be done.
“There was a lot of good competition here,” Steiger said. “This was a big eye opener for a lot of them. The good thing is that it shows us a lot of things that we need to work and improve upon.”
Borgia played Wednesday in the Lafayette jamboree, facing defending Class 4 state champion Eureka, the 2019 Class 4 runner-up Lafayette and rival O’Fallon Christian.
“That’s what makes this a good jamboree,” Steiger said. “It was a good way to test ourselves. The girls can see what they’re up against and what areas they’re struggling in. Those are made known by a lot of good teams. It was a good testing ground.”
The Lady Knights won one set during the event.
In the games, Borgia:
• Lost to Lafayette, 15-8, 15-11;
• Split with O’Fallon Christian, 15-7, 12-15; and
• Lost to Eureka, 15-10, 19-17.
Borgia had game point in the second game against Eureka multiple times, but couldn’t put it away.
“We have a lot of team building to do yet,” Steiger said. “We have a lot of individual talent, but we just need to work on playing better as a group on the whole. The biggest thing is consistency right now.”
By all rights, the competition is among the toughest Borgia will face this season. Eureka has another talented team. Lafayette saw its string of six consecutive state titles snapped in 2017. O’Fallon Christian was the runner-up to Borgia over the last two seasons, but has moved down to Class 2 this season.
Steiger said there were positives while there also were areas which need work before the team hosts perennial state power Helias Tuesday.
“There were a lot of good things we saw in spurts, but there also were a lot of things we just need to work on and fix.”
Among the positives were a long service run by junior Gabby Mattli during the win over O’Fallon Christian. Mattli was able to take the Lady Eagles out of system frequently, but Borgia also was able to have success when the ball came back over the net. Overall, it was Borgia’s most successful rotation on the night.
“They did well,” Steiger said. “Right now, it’s just streaky. There’s no consistency. The biggest thing to work on is consistency and ball control.”
Another rotation with success had senior Anna Eckelkamp serving.
Sophomore Annie Arand wore the libero jersey, taking over from four-year varsity player Paige Lynn. Lynn is playing for the University of South Alabama this year.
Senior Abby Lynn ran the offense as the team’s lone setter and was able to get to most balls for the second contact.
Sophomore Ella Brinkmann played six rotations and attacked the ball from all spots.
And younger players had runs of positive play as well. Those included sophomores Lily Brown, Lynsey Batson, Kaitlyn Patke and Caroline Glastetter.
“It’s early in the season,” Steiger said. “The biggest thing is the recognition of what they can do and when they can do it. It’s a good testing ground to find out what they need to work on.”