Over the years Salem Community High School has developed a reputation as one of the top volleyball programs in southern Illinois.

The 1980 Lady Wildcats squad played a big role in starting that tradition. Perhaps fittingly, it is the first volleyball ream to be inducted into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame.

First-year coach Pam (McCartney) Raymer made a big splash right off the bat, as her squad won the North Egypt Conference championship.

The NEC Champion was crowned through a tournament at that time. Salem, which was the number one seed going into the tournament, had a first-round bye. In the semifinal round Salem defeated Lawrenceville 15-2, 15-2.

Marla Sapp led Salem in that match with 10 service points and seven kills. Rae Woodruff and Ann Ruscher, who usually handled the setting duties, both added six points. Julie Myers had five.

In the championship match Salem won two hard-fought sets against Mt. Carmel 15-12, 16-14.

Sapp was a hitting machine with 17 kills in the title game. Sonia Anderson scored 16 points and Sheila Goostree added seven.

Salem, which opened district play at home with a 23-4 record, posted a first round win over Mr. Vernon 15-2, 15-8. Goostree led Salem with eight points.

In the district championship game Salem defeated Centralia 15 -7, 15-11.

Hitting carried the Lady Wildcats to victory, as Sapp led that day with 11 kills. Anderson added four and Amy Livesay had three.

The win sent the Lady Wildcats to the Highland Sectional where they needed three sets to defeat Harrisburg 15-10,13-15,15-1. It marked the first time Salem had ever won a sectional game in volleyball.

Sapp powered home 11 kills in that match, while Becky Burleyson had five.

The win sent the Lady Wildcats in the sectional championship game against Carbondale. Salem raced out to leads of 10-4 in the first set and 8-3 in the second set only to lose each 15-11, 15-13.

In addition to their NEC and postseason accomplishments, Salem defeated Breese Mater Dei, Belleville West and Mt. Carmel to claim top honors in its pool at the SIU-Carbondale Tournament. Salem fell to Collinsville in the semifinal round. Salem also took third place in its own invitational tournament with a win over Stewardson-Strasburg in the third place game.

Only the 1997 Lady Wildcats, which reached the super-sectional, have advanced further in postseason than the 1980 Salem team. Their final record of 26-5 is surpassed in the win column by only the 1987, 1997 and 1998 Salem teams.