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Christian spikers play well early, despite challenges

Junior outside hitter Belle Monaco has been a calming influence on the court for the O’Fallon Christian girls volleyball team this fall. [Jonathan Duncan/Mid Rivers Newsmagazine photo]

Christian High School has been without two of its top players in recent games but the Eagles volleyball team has started strong regardless and has no intention of making excuses this fall.

Christian entered this week with a 6-2 mark and sit a game ahead of Lutheran St. Charles at the top of the AAA Conference Division 2 standings. This, despite losing senior middle blocker Kennedy Davis and junior setter Addison Lyon from the roster due to health reasons.

“I really thought we would be undefeated at the beginning of the season,”  junior outside hitter Belle Monaco said. “But we are doing well.”

Accountability has been a major factor so far this season. Each player has been dedicated to putting their best foot forward in practice and games.

“The key is that they have been coming in each and every practice and have been focused on goals for the team and keeping themselves accountable for each goal, such as not letting balls fall [to the floor],  and having a good attitude,” Eagles coach Kayla Hellebusch said. “They have been working out since before school started and have high expectations for this year. They always have that in the back of their minds.”

The Eagles got their season in high gear early thanks to a strong performance on Aug. 31 at the Visitation Invitational Tournament. Victories over Francis Howell North, Rosati Kain, Parkway Central and Lindbergh in pool play pushed the Eagles into the gold pool championship. Their only loss was to perennial powerhouse Incarnate Word, as the Eagles finished the tournament with a productive 4-1 ledger.

“The energy was really high that day which I think is a real big key for us,” Hellebusch said. “Our bench helped out immensely and we just did the little things right.”

In Davis’ absence, Monaco has led the team in kills, averaging 4.18 per game. She also has been a major, calming influence on the court, helping to make sure everyone is doing what needs to be done at the right time.

“I knew at tryouts I had to be a big leader … I’m trying to keep everybody up,” Monaco said. “With me being front row and back row, I’m involved in almost every play, so it’s really important to me that everybody else is all up with a good attitude [when we play].”

With Lyon out for the season, senior defensive specialist Beka Wieschhaus and freshman libero Josie Villard are filling in and making an impact in the back row.

Hellebusch is pleased with the team’s play so far but added: “I think we need to have more consistent play in our serve-receive because it can be up and down. We also need more consistency in our hitting and we’re working with the girls to do different shots, so we’re not as predictable.”

The Eagles, who were knocked out of Class 3, District 7 play last year in the postseason, will move down to Class 2 for this season.

Monaco said she and her teammates have a goal beyond a district title.

“There’s been a really big atmosphere change recently with Addie and Kennedy [out],” she said. “I feel like we’re driving even harder and now our goal is state. We want to do that for them.”



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