Returning all but two players from a school-record breaking performance in 1997, the 1998 Salem Lady Wildcats Volleyball team etched their own chapter in the school’s record book.

Salem’s 32-3 mark broke the 1997 team’s school record for wins by a team and the Lady Wildcats were undefeated against Illinois competition until their final game.

The first of two regular season tournament championships for Salem came at Carbondale, as the Lady Wildcats went 5-0 to claim the top spot. Salem won its pool by beating Carlyle, Sparta and Carbondale and finished things off by beating Sparta again in the semifinal round and Freeburg in three sets in the championship match. Senior Audrey Husk was selected to the all-tournament team.

Both of the Lady Wildcats regular season losses came at the Effingham Crossroads Classic where Salem finished seventh in the gold medal division. Salem beat Shelbyville and Montgomery County, Mo. to win its pool, but lost in bracket play to St. Joseph’s Academy of St. Louis and Herman, Mo. Salem’s other tournament championship came at Edwards County. The Lady Wildcats won their pool by beating Benton, Effingham and Grayville followed by a semifinal victory over Kansas and a straight-set win over North Clay in the title match. Husk along with seniors Chandra Hensley and Renee Brubaker were all-tournament selections.

Coach Suzanne Henry earned a personal milestone early in the season, as a 15-1, 15-3 triumph over Red Hill at B. E. Gum Gym gave her 200 wins for her career.

The team’s eight-member senior class of Husk, Hensley, Brubaker, Megan Grizzle, Paula Gregg, Trisha Hustedde, Marcia Schaubert and Krissy Kolmer celebrated Senior Night with a straight-set win over Fairfield that clinched Salem’s eighth straight North Egypt Conference championship and their 7-0 league mark for the year extended their conference winning streak to 30 games.

The Lady Wildcats began the state’s new sectional complex format for Class AA by winning their own regional, as they knocked off Cahokia 15-2, 15-1 in the semifinals and Centralia 15-4, 15-2 in the championship.

Salem remained at home for the sectional and a 15-9 , 15-7 victory over Belleville Althoff in the semifinal round was the team’s 32nd of the season to break the 1997 team’s school record for wins.

For the third straight season, Salem’s postseason path was ended by a school from Belleville, this time the Mighty Maroons of Belleville West in the sectional championship game. Salem won the first set 15-8, but dropped the next two 15-8, 15-9. The Lady Wildcats had a 9-7 lead in the decisive third set, but Belleville West scored the final eight points to win the match.

Husk closed out her high school career with her third straight NEC Most Valuable Player Award. Brubaker and Hustedde garnered NEC First Team honors, while Hensley and Grizzle were selected to the Second Team. Gregg and Schaubert received Honorable Mention.