EAST MOLINE — The enduring charm of United Township’s Kiwanis Volleyball Tournament was on full display again for the 27th time Saturday.
After a full day of competitive matches, Class 3A sub-sectional top-seed LaSalle-Peru reigned supreme, with the Northern Illinois Big 12 club improving to 21-3 by overpowering Three Rivers West 2A competitor Rockridge in the championship match, 25-15 and 25-11.
Meanwhile, the third-place match came down to a pair of 1A Lincoln Trail Conference foes, with West Prairie getting the better of Annawan, 25-16 and 25-22.
“Our goal each year with the tournament is to provide area teams with the opportunity to compete against schools they don’t usually face during the regular season, teams of different conferences and enrollment-based classes as well,” said UTHS athletic director Mark Pustelnik. “The smaller schools we invited this year from our area are very strong and competitive.”
In pool play, the hosts competed against Riverdale and the third-place match foes. The title tandem were together in the other pool with Knoxville and Peoria Richwoods.
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Annawan emerged as the top seed from pool A, and Rockridge held the second seed. LaSalle-Peru rolled to the top seed in pool B, and West Prairie secured the second seed. Riverdale also looked strong in the morning with split matches against UT, Annawan and West Prairie, but fell a few points short of advancing into the championship bracket.
“We’ve had a great number of very close matches this year, and this tournament allows us to compete against a variety of schools, and I view tournaments as an opportunity to give valuable playing time to everyone,” said Riverdale coach Lisa Black. “I was extremely impressed with how we came back against a tough West Prairie team.”
In the semifinals, Rockridge edged Annawan, 25-19 and 25-22, while L-P had little trouble with West Prairie, 25-9, 25-15.
“We played Annawan a couple of weeks ago and lost in their gym, and our players are stubborn and determined to prevail when we play a tough team a second time,” said Rockridge coach Candy Lopez. “Keely Parker, Amelia Thomas and Taylor Zeck were outstanding for us throughout the day, and even when we got behind, their leadership came through for us.”
Parker was joined on the all-tournament team by Annawan’s Ella Manuel, UT’s Jade Hunter, Riverdale’s Abigail Weaver, L-P’s Marisa Guisti, West Prairie’s Emily Richardson and Jasmin McDaniel of Richwoods,
“As the tournament host, it’s great for us to compete against schools we would not regularly face that feature different styles and approaches,” said UTHS coach Jillian VanOpdorp. “Our team is still developing its style of play, and we gained great experience for Jade and our other young players.”