SHULLSBURG - The young head coaching careers of Potosi’s Sydney Kittoe and Belmont’s Megan Richardson began last Saturday at the Six Rivers Invitational at Shullsburg High School.
Kittoe, a former Chieftain herself, led her alma mater to a 3-1 record and a second place finish at the nine-team event.
Potosi swept through the pool play portion of the tourney with 2-0 victories over Cassville and Pecatonica to earn a spot in the Championship Gold Pool of first place finishers.
Led by the hitting attack of seniors Ashley Flesch, Maleah Mumm Kylie Meier and junior Rylie Bausch Potosi made quick work of defending WIAA Division 4 state champion Highland 25-18, 26-24 to set up a winner-take-all showdown with Southwestern.
As a side-note Highland did lose five seniors from last year’s state championship team, including all-state selection and two-time Six Rivers West Player of the Year Kendall Wienkes. But Potosi’s victory over Highland was impressive nonetheless.
However, Southwestern quickly spoiled the Chieftains’ title aspirations with a 25-19, 25-9 sweep of Kittoe’s club.
“I thought the tournament went well,” said Kittoe. “The girls faced tough competition from the start and responded well.They showed improvement throughout the day. We faced a tough Southwestern team in our final match, and unfortunately lost both sets, but the girls played hard and fought until the end.”
Bausch finished with a team-high 19 kills, while junior Kate Mish made six blocks. Emily Hill passes out 56 assists in four matches and Maleah Mumm served up six aces.
Meanwhile on the other spectrum of the tournament were Richardson and her Braves.
Richardson, who was the J.V. coach and a varsity assistant for Belmont last year after spending the six previous years at her alma mater Westosha Central a Division 1 power from the Southern Lakes Conference, and her Braves are the midst of a rebuilding project.
A year ago Belmont struggled to a 4-11 record and a 3-9 sixth place finish in the Six Rivers West, but the Braves return six letter-winners from that team.
However, Belmont’s 2011 season got off to a rocky start in unquestionably the toughest three-team opening round pool with back-to-back losses to eventual champion Southwestern (25-7, 25-9) and fourth-place finisher Barneveld (25-16, 25-17). Southwestern went 4-0 in the tournament and Barneveld’s only loss was to the Wildcats during pool play.
In the Bronze pool for third place finishers Belmont dropped a third straight match after winning the opening game in a back-and-forth battle with Shullsburg, 25-13, 23-25, 11-15.
Richardson’s Braves finally scored a victory in their last match off the day with a 23-25, 28-26, 15-11 come-from-behind victory over Pecatonica. Belmont (1-3) finished in a three-way tie with Shullsburg and Pecatonica for seventh place as all three went 1-1 in the Bronze pool.
“I felt that we had many moments where we looked fantastic,” said Richardson. “We are definitely improving. We are trying to run a faster offense and run more plays, which also leads us to make more mistakes. We just need to cut down on our mental mistakes and focus on the positive and the wins will come.
“This is a young team, but very willing and wanting to learn. I was happy with our showing because I saw a lot of potential.”
Senior Molly Bockhop and Cassie McCarthy each floored 17 kills to pace the Braves’ offense. Bockhop also added 21 digs and 12 assists. Freshman Keegan Kamps added 16 kills and four bloack, while senior Kailee Kamps contributed 28 assists and 16 kills.
The first-year coaches squared off this past Tuesday as Kittoe and Potosi opened the conference season at Belmont. Richardson’s Braves will now host River Ridge on Thursday.
Six Rivers Invitational (Shullsburg)
(from Saturday, Aug. 27 @ Shullsburg)
Gold pool standings: Southwestern 3-0, Potosi 2-2, Highland 0-4
Silver pool standings: Barneveld 4-0, Cassville 2-2, Ithaca 0-4
Bronze pool standings: Shullsburg 3-3, Belmont 3-3, Pecatonica 3-3.
Pool A standings - Potosi 4-0, Cassville 2-2, Pecatonica 0-4.
Pool B standings - Highland 3-1, Ithaca 2-2, Shullsburg 1-3.
Pool C standings - Southwestern 4-0, Barneveld 2-2, Belmont 0-4.
def. Cassville 2-0
def. Pecatonica 2-0
def. Highland 2-0 (25-18, 26-24)
lost to Southwestern 0-2 (25-19, 25-9)
lost to Southwestern 7-25, 9-25
lost to Barneveld 16-25, 17-25
lost to Shullsburg 25-13, 23-25, 11-15
def. Pecatonica 23-25, 28-26, 15-11
Potosi stat leaders: Kills - Rylie Bausch 19. Blocks - Kate Mish 6. Assists - Emily Hill 56. Aces - Maleah Mumm 6. Digs - Abby Ames 13.
Belmont stat leaders: Kills - Cassie McCarthy 17, Molly Bockhop 17, Keegan Kamps 16, Kailee Kamps 16. Blocks - Keegan Kamps 4, Cassie McCarthy 2. Assists - Kailee Kamps 28, Bockhop 12. Aces - Makenzie Kamps 6, McCarthy 5. Digs - Emma Lee 34, Bockhop 21.