With players missing and tough competition at the Altamont Tournament, it had been a difficult few weeks for the Nokomis volleyball team, who had lost seven straight going into the Montgomery County Invitational. Fortunately, the Grace-Filled Tourney seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for the Redskins.
Nokomis not only snapped their losing streak in their first game at the tournament in Hillsboro, but they also swept both games in Saturday’s Bronze Flight to finish 3-2 on the weekend and in ninth place in the 16-team tourney.
Playing in the Hillsboro Junior High Gym, one of four sites for the tournament along with the Hillsboro High School gym and two gyms at Lincolnwood, the Redskins squared off against Mt. Olive in their opening game. Making short work of the Wildcats, Nokomis picked up a 25-10 win in game one, then added a nearly as decisive 25-15 victory in game two to improve to 3-9 on the season overall.
The other two teams in the Beat INAD Pool played next, with Vandalia defeating Roxana 25-22, 21-25, 15-11. The two former South Central Conference foes made the Beat INAD pool one of the toughest in the tournament as they went on to both finish in the top five. Roxana has finished in the top five each of the previous three Montgomery County Invites.
Vandalia was a top five finisher in 2019 and 2018 as well.
The Redskins would get to see how good the Vandals were in their next game, but put up a fight against the team from Fayette County. Vandalia would hold off Nokomis 25-19 in game one, then beat the Redskins by eight, 25-17, in game two to stay perfect in Hillsboro.
Roxana would improve to 1-1 in pool play with a 25-6, 25-22 victory over Mt. Olive and would carry that momentum into their match with Nokomis. The Redskins were able to string together a few points, but fell to the Shells 25-15, 25-16 to finish pool play with a 1-2 mark.
Vandalia closed out pool play with a 25-6, 25-7 win over Mt. Olive, which sent them to the Gold Flight with a 3-0 record, while Mt. Olive moved to the Copper Flight at 0-3. Roxana, at 2-1, moved to the Silver Flight.
With three games under their belts, the goal for the Redskins would be ninth place, which would require two victories on Saturday, Sept. 11, at the high school gym in Hillsboro.
Nokomis took care of the first part of that quest with a win over a familiar name, if not yet familiar faces. The Lincolnwood JV team was a late substitute for Auburn, who had to pull out of the tournament on Thursday. The junior varsity Lancers picked up a win in pool play over Litchfield to make it to the Bronze Flight, but Nokomis would keep them from advancing to the ninth place game with a 25-20, 25-13 victory over the young Lancers.
Just before Nokomis’ opening game in bracket play, the Edinburg Wildcats dispatched Ramsey in two games 25-20, 25-18 to earn their spot in the ninth place contest, where they would meet the Redskins.
After Ramsey beat Lincolnwood’s JV 25-18, 25-20 to finish 11th, the Wildcats and Redskins faced off. Nokomis would claim a 25-20 victory in game one, then held on for a 25-21 win in game two to end the tournament on a high note.
With three wins and two losses, Nokomis moved their record to 5-11 on the season, more than doubling their win total going into the tournament. The Redskins will take on another Grace-Filled Tourney team tonight, Sept. 13, when they host South County, who finished seventh overall.