EDWARDSVILLE - The Edwardsville High girls' volleyball team used key shots at important times to help pull out a 25-22, 25-23 win over Belleville West in a very well-played and exciting IHSA Class 4A regional final Thursday night at Lucco-Jackson Gym.
Whenever the Maroons would rally back and take a lead, the Tigers found a way to come back themselves and hold off the West rallies, in at least one case regaining the lead and coming up with big shots and big plays in the key moments.
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"We've been working on this week being able to hold true to what we've trained at," Ohlau said. "Making those shots, trying to mix it up where what one thing doesn't work, we've got to rely on something and keep a level head and just keep fighting through and just finding a way to be able to succeed."
That the Tigers did, and Ohlau was very proud of her team for their efforts.
"I'm happy for our seniors," Ohlau said. "I think they deserve everything. They put in the work, they put in that drive, and they have taken those leadership roles to push this team to be better. And as we go through this season, it's coming together. But I still want more."
The site for the Tigers-Panthers match has yet to be determined, but Ohlau will be happy to play anywhere.
"I don't know. Obviously, it should be at a neutral site," Ohlau said. "In my opinion, it doesn't really matter. We've just got to get back to work, train and just look to that next match."
The first set was a see-saw affair that saw neither team take a lead of more than one point as the teams battled to a 12-12 tie in the set. The Tigers were able to go on the first run of the match, courtesy of a five-point string served up by Sydney Davis that features key shots by Sara Gouy and Addie Reader to give the Tigers a 17-12 lead before the Maroons got the ball back. West used its strong defense to help stay close, allowing the Maroons to fight back.
"West always traditionally has a solid defense," Ohlau said, "and it frustrates hitters. And they stepped up again tonight. They were shutting us down at the net, at times, they had some huge blocks coming down on the home stretch, their offense put together some nice swings. But I'm glad our defense was able to step in, our blocks was able to slip some of their attacks down and our hitters were able to finish. It was the type of match you expect in the postseason, so for us to be able to battle on both sides. You hate to see a team go home, but unfortunately, it is what it is."
The Tigers got the score to 18-14 in the set before the Maroons, behind the service of Addie Gagen, got back to within 18-17, forcing an Edwardsville time-out. The Tigers then scored the next three points to push the lead to 21-17, then another Edwardsville rally pushed the score to 24-20 before a Davis kill three points later gave the Tigers a 25-22 first-set win.
Edwardsville used the momentum to a 4-0 lead to open the second set, which became 10-5, causing the Maroons to call time out. Kills from Claire Dunivan and Reader increased the Tiger lead to 13-7 before an Ashley Geluck kill triggered a rally by the Maroons, with Maddie Schield serving up four straight points to cut the lead to 13-12.
The Tigers then took a 17-14 lead when Geluck served up another four points in a row to give West a 19-17 lead. Edwardsville cut the lead to 20-19, but the Maroons took the score to 22-20 when Vyla Hupp came up big, getting a kill to tie the score 22-22, then Dunivan and Davis combined on a big block to retie the score 23-23, with Davis getting a big kill off a Hanna Matarelli serve to make it 24-23 and on the next serve, the ball deflected out to give the Tigers a 25-23 win and the match 2-0.
Davis led Edwardsville with seven kills, while Reader had five and both Hupp and Dunivan had four kills each, Matarelli had 11 digs, with Reader coming up with 10 and Megan Knobeloch nine, Matarelli also had 11 assists, with Gouy having 11, Matarelli served up eight points, while Davis had five and both Knobeloch and Hupp had four and Matarelli had three aces and Hupp came up with two.
The Tigers will now face O'Fallon in the Normal Sectional semifinal Monday night at 6 p.m. The Panthers won the Belleville East regional Thursday night over the host Lancers 25-18, 25-15.