EDWARDSVILLE – The Edwardsville High School girls volleyball team got off to a big start, scoring the matches’ first seven points, and 12 of the first 13, and never let up in a 25-9, 25-6 win over Alton in the Southwestern Conference opener for both teams Tuesday evening at Lucco-Jackson Gym.

The Tigers jumped out quickly to the lead and held on to it throughout in going on to their sixth win in their first seven matches.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” Edwardsville coach Lisa Orlet said. “I wanted them to kind of bounce back after losing to Oakville (in the final of the Tiger Classic tournament on Saturday) and kind of be the team that they know they can be, and support each other, and they really did tonight. They said they wanted to go and play in their system and reduce their unforced errors, and they really did. I was really proud of them.”

And everything in the match went the Tigers’ way on the evening.

“Yeah, for sure, we had everything going our way tonight,” Orlet said, “and I think it was exciting for them, too, because it was their first home game, and so, they were trying to show what all their hard work off; since Aug. 12, they’ve been really working really hard in the gym. You can see that they’re doing big things this year, they can spread the offense around to anybody in the front row, so I think they recognize we’ve got to maintain our ball control, so we can keep everything balanced. Very proud, absolutely.”

The Redbirds did have a few bright spots, but Edwardsville was dominant right from the start.

“Yeah, I mean, Edwardsville definitely showed up, and played their game,” said Alton head coach Stacey Ferguson, “and played it very smart and aggressive match against us, and my girls didn’t quite step up and put in what they needed to against a team like that. We’re quicker on our transitions, we’ve got to have a lot more fight in order to shut down teams like that. But most definitely, Edwardsville came out, they were pretty flawless with everything they did, and we just have to be better out there on the other side.”

The Redbirds do return some experienced players, with two seniors on the roster, and Ferguson hopes to see the experienced players take charge more.

“We definitely have some experience with a couple of our juniors, and our seniors out there,” Ferguson said. “So I really expect to see more leadership out there than I have the last few nights. Our seniors, (Janelle) Rose and Sammi Dosso, should really be great assets out there as far as leadership; they have varsity court experience, they have great talent. They just have to really come out of their shells and take charge of their court.”

It’s still very early in the season, and Ferguson hopes the Redbird players will be able to bounce back and keep on striving.

“I hope that this is just one little obstacle and that we learn from it and move forward,” Ferguson said, “and not let this bring us down. We have to go refocus; we have a match tomorrow, so not a lot of time to dwell on it. We just have to learn, and hopefully, we’ll get better each night, and have a different showing when we play them later on in the season.”

Morgan Tulacro served to start the match for Edwardsville, and right off the bat, served up the first seven points of the opening set, getting three kills while Storm Suhre also had a kill as the Tigers jumped out quickly to a 7-0 lead. Olivia Ducey got the first kill of the night for Alton to make it 7-1, but Edwardsville immediately got the ball back and scored the next four points with Emma Garner serving to make it 12-1. A service went long to make the score 12-2, but Suhre got another kill to give the ball back to the Tigers at 13-2. Gabby Saye served up the next three points, and after an exchange that made it 17-4, Shiann Johnson served up consecutive points for the Redbirds that brought Alton back to 17-6, but Maddie Isringhausen did the same after the Tigers got the ball back to bring the score to 20-6. The set ended with both teams exchanging points, with Garner getting the kill at game point to give Edwardsville a 25-9 win and a one-set lead in the match.

The second set started with the Tigers scoring the first three points before the Redbirds got the ball back. Edwardsville then took a 6-3 lead, with Alexia Harris serving up what turned out to be a six-point run, with Suhre’s block at the net making it 9-3 before the Redbirds regained possession. After the Tigers made it 10-4, Saye then served up three points to make it 13-4 before an exchange of points made it 16-6. Isringhausen then served out the match, scoring the final nine points with kills from Harris, Rihanna Huebner and a dink from Isringhausen helping the Tigers take the second set and the match 25-6.

The Redbirds are now 1-4 on the young season, 0-1 in the SWC, and host Chatham Glenwood on Wednesday in the first of a six-match homestand, with a 5:45 p.m. start. Alton then hosts Mary Institute-Country Day and Ft. Zumwalt West on Friday in a round-robin tournament.

The Tigers go to 6-1, 1-0 in the league, and play a pair of matches on Friday at Effingham, going against Champaign Centennial at 6 p.m., and Bowling Green Greenwood at 9:15 p.m. And one of the goals Edwardsville has set is to play well in each of their tournaments.

“The girls have all set goals in each tournament,” Orlet said, “and are really focusing on taking it one game at a time, and we’re respecting each opponent, but also, working on playing their game at every moment. So far, so good. We’re going to keep plugging away.”

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story

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