Quite a Show: NCOE finishes 3rd at State

Darren Kinnard

NORMAL — Following Friday’s semifinal loss to Springfield Lutheran, NCOE head coach Jaclyn Melton told her team they belonged there (at state), and that a similar effort Saturday would lead to good things.

Melton was correct.

The NCOE Fighting Cardinals finished in 3rd Place in 1A. Photo courtesy NCOE Volleyball

The NCOE Fighting Cardinals will be bringing home their third state trophy in the last seven seasons. After fourth place finishes in 2016 and 2019, this year’s group finished a program best third after beating Newman Central Catholic 25-17, 25-18 Saturday morning at Redbird Arena in Normal.

Hollan Everett led the way with 10 kills for the Fighting Cardinals who finish 39-3.

What might have been
The Fighting Cardinals got off to a great start in their semifinal against Springfield Lutheran. NCOE led by as many as five points in the opening set, and had multiple game points, but they could not put the Crusaders away.

Makenna Cox had a lot to do with that. The senior tallied 14 of her game 19 kills in the opener, including the final three points as Springfield Lutheran took the opener 28-26.

The Crusaders continued that momentum into the second, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. NCOE was in chase mode the entire game, but could get no closer than two at 15-13. After the Fighting Cardinals cut the deficit to 19-16, the Crusaders rattled off the final six points to take the match, 25-16 in game two.

Freeport Acquin beat Springfield Lutheran 25-20, 25-15 Saturday to win the 1A State Championship.