BELLEVILLE - Kaden Chiapelli came up with 10 kills, while teammate Evan Reid had seven in the final set and Preston Weaver had 28 assists as the Edwardsville boys volleyball team defeated O'Fallon 27-25, 20-25, 25-20 in the IHSA sectional semifinals Saturday evening at Belleville East High School.

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The Tigers advance to the final for the first time since 2014 and will play against Lockport Township, who won their semifinal in Minooka over New Lenox Lincoln-Way West 25-21, 23-25, 25-13. The winner moves on to next weekend's state finals at Glen Ellyn Glenbard West High School.

It was a match that was expected to be very close and highly competitive, with both teams knowing each other so well, and a prediction that was made by Tigers' head coach Scott Smith that at least one of the sets would go beyond 25 points came true.

"As soon as I saw the first set score go 27-25, my prediction came true," Smith said. "It was a great match between two talented teams."

The keys to the match were that Edwardsville's back row defense played very well, and that Reid came alive in the third set to make a big difference.

"The key was our back row defense," Smith said, "and individually, Evan Reid was definitive in the way we were able to take a seven point lead and combine our kills."

A very loud and enthusiastic crowd, especially a large contingent of Edwardsville supporters, also helped the Tigers' cause.

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"It was so exciting in the gym," Smith said, "when the referees blew their whistles when the ball was still moving, the clad in black Tiger fans were still cheering, not knowing that the ball was dead. It was amazing having so many volleyball fans in general, and so many Tiger fans in particular. I want to thank everyone --- friends, families, students and alumni --- for coming out to Belleville East to support us."

It was a very nip-and-tuck contest between the two schools, which was at one point so close, the Tigers didn't have more than a two-point lead until the third set, when they broke out to their seven-point advantage on their way to the win.

"The only time in the match we had more than a two-point lead was in the third set," Smith said. "O'Fallon got out to an early lead in the second set, and we would come back, but O'Fallon owned the set."

Miles Bell served up four points for the Tigers to go along with six kills, two digs and two blocks, Chiapelli had five points, 10 kills, 10 digs and two blocks, Tyler Cherenka had two points and six digs, Jacob Geisen came up with nine points, two aces, six kills and 14 digs, John Kreke had three points, a kill, three digs and two blocks, Liam Marsh had six points, two aces and two digs, Reid had three points, an ace, seven kills, eight digs and a block and Weaver had eight digs, 28 assists and a block.

O'Fallon ends their season 9-4, while the Tigers are now 12-1 and will play the Porters in the sectional final at Minooka High School Tuesday evening in a match that starts at 6 p.m. The winner advances to the state finals next weekend, playing in the first quarterfinal Friday morning at 10 a.m. against either Chicago Marist or Frankfort Lincoln-Way East. Smith is expecting a good match against a very good Lockport team.

"They're bigger than us," Smith said, "and they've had the advantage of playing 23 matches so far. A lot of our losses have been internal, and when we've played badly, it's us shooting ourselves in the foot."

Smith is very confident that his team will be ready to go on Tuesday, and knows that the Tigers can compete with anyone in the state.

"I think the boys are fully capable," Smith said, "and I'd put them up against anyone in the state when we're at the top of our game."

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