Updated: Apr 22
Judah Christian’s varsity volleyball team beat the Blue Ridge Knights for the first time in coach Caesar Talili’s career. The Tribe defeated their rivals 25–21 and 25–23. The big win came at the Blue Ridge Early Bird Invitational tournament in Farmer City on Saturday, August 27. The triumphant Tribe went 4–1 at the tournament, including the two-set victory over the host school.
“It feels good to be on the winning side of a match against Blue Ridge,” said Coach Talili, “because we’re usually on the second-place side of the game, whether it be in this tournament or in regionals. Beating them for the first time since coaching is a sweet revenge moment.”
The 81 assists of junior Klementine Davis and the incredible defense of sophomore Brelyn Riesberg got them both named to the all-tournament team. “It was cool,” said Brelyn, “because the coaches picked me out of all the players in the tournament and said I was one of the best.” Junior Hannah Jackson also had an impressive tournament, with 41 kills in five matches.
Judah varsity volleyball jumped into the 2022 season with a different approach than last year. “Last year,” said Coach Talili, “there was always someone who had the power to score offensively when we rotated. This year, we’re down on the offense, but the defense is spectacular.” This year’s team is also young, having five freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors, and no seniors, after losing seven seniors from last season.
“We lost a lot of key players who held us together,” said Klementine. “But even with those losses, we have good chemistry, and we can still play our game.” In fact, the team has a lot of experience through club volleyball. Outside hitter Hannah Jackson, middle hitter Ava Carder, setter Klementine Davis, setter Riley Pritts, and libero Brelyn Riesberg all play for the Illini Elite Volleyball Club. Klementine Davis has made the Illini Elite national team once and the Primetime Volleyball Club national team three times.
The victory against Blue Ridge and the third place overall finish at the tournament set up what many hope will be an impressive season. “We’d like to get better, grow as a team, and hopefully win the conference and regional championships,” said Klementine. “I hope we all become one team,” added Hannah, “with everyone having fun and playing their best.” — Caleb McCullough, class of '24