By DAN FOX
On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Hermann volleyball team beat St. Pius X of Festus in the Class 2 State Tournament to claim yet another state title, and simultaneously put an end the doubts about the program.
“We were pretty excited, that pretty much sums it up,” said coach Philip Landolt, adding that there were questions floating around as to whether the girls would be as successful this year as they’d been previously.
“Being that we had lost four pretty talented seniors the year before, and lost Missouri’s winningest coach [Linda Lampkin], and so it was nice to see that come together at the end and kind of silence some of that talk,” Landolt said.
Landolt, who was the assistant coach for 15 years, said the win felt “really good.”
The Bearcats won their game against St. Pious in two sets: the score of the first being 25-18, the second set finishing 25-19.
The game took place at the Show Me Center, the gym of Cape Girardeau-based Southeast Missouri State University.
Landolt said St. Pious had two really talented outside hitters, and for most of the match, Landolt said Hermann was trading “kill for kill” with their opponents.
“I felt good about how we were playing offensively, we just needed to either dig up some of their kills, or serve a couple of aces,” Landolt said. The girls just weren’t getting the killer serves they needed right away on Saturday, but a senior soon stepped up to the line and served some aces that spread out the points.
“That first game I felt like we got a little bit of a lead at the beginning, and we always just kind of had it, but that second game we fell behind a little bit by maybe two points or so, but then we turned it on and got some separation, so that was good,” Landolt said.
Hermann’s volleyball program is a storied one – under Lampkin’s leadership, the team took thirteen state titles.
“She’s continuously won state championships, which is pretty awesome to do for a small school like ours,” Landolt said.
Taking number 14 this year was huge for the girls, Landolt said.
“I think they were really excited, and I think there was a lot of relief, because they knew they could do it,” he said. After the first round of games Friday, Nov. 8 and coming out on top there, there was pressure to come back on Saturday and do it all again.
“Having to come out on Saturday and repeat that performance was probably a little nerve-wracking, but they did it,” Landolt said.
This season had two players with standout achievements and post-season honors. First was Grace Winkelmann, who led the St. Louis area in kills per set, was the conference player of the year.
“And there wasn’t a team that could stop her at the state tournament,” Landolt said. “She knew when she could swing, when she could tip, she had very few attack errors during the tournament.”
The team’s setter, Hannah Grosse, led the St. Louis area in assists per set, and was named a Missouri Player of the Week this season by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
With the close of the season, the team will lose seniors Chloe Witte and Gabriella Engemann, and Landolt said he’s not sure where this will leave the program next year.
“We’ll just have to see who comes out to play and who comes out over the summer, and who wants to fight for some of those spots,” Landolt said. “I don’t know if I would have told you this is what our lineup would have looked like last year when we ended the season, and so I think there’s a lot of question marks up in the air.”
With 14th state titles, Landolt said he hopes the program’s numbers will boost a bit, and draw more interest in the volleyball team for next year.