Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 7, 2009



Her team a single point away from elimination on its rival’s home floor, Riverside coach Kristy Hebert wasn’t sure she’d ever get the chance to see her Rebels play to their full potential.

But with their backs against the wall, that’s exactly what they did.

The Rebels dropped two of the first three games and trailed St. Charles 24-20 in the fourth game of its Division IV bi-district round playoff match before playing perhaps its best volleyball of the season on Thursday. Riverside scored seven of the next eight points to squeak out a 27-25 decision and force a fifth game.

There, Shea LaFountain took over, drilling kills on seven of the Rebels’ last nine points to lead her team to a 25-19, 14-25, 19-25, 27-25, 15-6 win in LaPlace.

“I just felt this adrenaline rush all of a sudden,” said LaFountain, who finished with a match-high 34 kills. “I knew I had to do what I could to help my team out.”

Said Hebert: “It took us 36 matches and four games, but we finally did it. We put it together when it counted.”

Riverside, the 16th seed in Division IV, will travel to play top seeded McGehee next.

It was the third meeting of the season between the district rivals. St. Charles swept Riverside during the regular season to capture second place in District 7-IV.

When the brackets came out, it was a shot at redemption for the Rebels.

“I was glad,” said Riverside’s Kaitlyn Millet, who had 32 assists. “We felt like there was no way we lose to them for a third time. We knew it was time to come out and play.”

Hebert said she used recent history as a motivator for her team.

“We used the example of how (Riverside) beat Curtis twice during the regular season, then how Curtis knocked them out in the playoffs,” said Hebert of the 2006 and 2007 Rebel teams. “You can be on top one second, then knocked down. It gave a little bit of an extra edge for them.”

Aimee Williamson had 43 digs for Riverside (16-21), while Shelby Deslatte added 27.

Meg Gustafson led St. Charles with 19 kills, four aces and five blocks. Kadie Levatino added 30 digs and Courtney Western had 32 assists.

St. Charles led throughout the fourth game, going ahead by as many as eight. A pair of Jaymie Remondet kills made it 19-12, and the Comets looked to be coasting onto the next round.

Two Kristy Milioto kills helped propel Riverside onto a quick 4-0 run to cut the lead to three. A Kelsi Roussel spike made it 22-20, and Riverside had new life.

St. Charles pushed the Rebels backs against the wall with kills by Gustafson and Remondet, making it 24-20 and compelling Hebert to call a timeout.

The tactic worked. Two Comet return errors kept RA alive. A LaFountain kill cut the SCC lead to 24-23. A Comets spike into the net tied the game up. LaFountain’s next spike attempt sailed out of bounds to put SCC back ahead, but she’d tie the game on her next chance to slam one home. A SCC return error gave Riverside the lead, and Milioto finished the comeback off with a kill to send Riverside’s fans into a frenzy.

“We let up,” said St. Charles coach Kelly Cupit. “We didn’t take it in our hands and do what we knew we needed to do.”

St. Charles seemed to gather itself early in the fifth game, scoring the first three points, including an ace by Courtney Western and a block by Gustafson. The lead grew to 5-1 after a Gustafson dig found a hole in the RA defense.

But from there, Riverside wouldn’t be stopped. LaFountain tied the game at 5-5 with a kill. Her tip put the Rebels ahead. An ace by Taylor Terrio gave RA a 9-5 lead. Back-to-back LaFountain kills made it 12-5, and another would make it 14-5. In all, that capped a 12-0 run with Terrio at the serving line.

“There’s a freshman stepping up in a huge situation,” said Hebert of Terrio. “And Shea grew up today in that fifth game. You saw the nerves go out of her.”

St. Charles scored once more, but couldn’t stave off elimination.

Defensively, the Rebels played with reckless abandon to avoid seeing their season end.

“We all know how to play defense,” Millet said. “None of us wanted this to be it for our season.”

A quick start by the Rebels proved the difference in the first game, as RA charged ahead to an 8-1 lead. St. Charles pulled within one, 15-14, on a Gustafson ace, but a pair of kills by Millet and another by Milioto pushed the RA lead to four, and the Rebels surged to victory.

The second game saw SCC take control by breaking a 6-6 toe with a 10-1 run, highlighted by five Gustafson kills. SCC led 21-9 at one point and never saw its lead drop below double figures.

The Comets’ win in the third game was powered by another big run, this time an 11-2 spot that gave St. Charles a 16-6 lead. The Rebels cut the lead to four late on the back of a 6-0 run, but a Remondet kill finished the game.

But in the end, the third time was the charm for Riverside.

“We wanted the win so bad,” said LaFountain. “We knew we could do it.”