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COLLINSVILLE - Hitters Alexa Harris and Emma Garner each had 10 kills and nine service points, while Madison Vieth had 11 assists and Morgan Tulacro had 10 in helping the Edwardsville girls volleyball team sweep Collinsville 25-14, 25-14 in a Southwestern Conference match Thursday evening at Vergil Fletcher Gym.

The Tigers jumped out to a 12-5 in both sets to sweep the match and go to 2-0 on the young season, overcoming a slow start to go on the streaks and gain momentum.

"We started out slow again, tonight," said first-year Edwardsville coach Heather Ohlau, "so that's one thing we're going to work on, but I think with seniority and the experience that we have, they were able to settle in and just take off."

Once the Tigers established their rhythm and were able to reel off consecutive points, it was hard to stop the momentum, where the front row are able to make plays that produce the points.

"Yeah, we have a pretty strong arsenal in the front row," Ohlau said. "It's nice that our setters are able to mix it up and several options, so having those options are pretty nice."

The middle players are able to execute the plays needed to set things up for the front row players.

"Our middles are quick," Ohlau said, "they can spread the block, and several times tonight, both Storm (Suhre) and Rihanna (Huebner) ran a quick, which left our outside hitter to have a one-on-one. So even if they're not getting set, they're still able to impact the offense."

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Libero Kaitlyn Conway and Harris had the two service runs in each set that helped the Tigers pull away.

"One thing that we like to work on is being able to serve aggressive to where they can't run a middle," Ohlau said. "It makes other team's offenses a little bit more predictable, so once we get on those service runs, I think that just builds up our energy and their confidence, and we were able to relax a little bit and not play as tight."

The Tigers are off to a good start of the season, winning their opening two matches, and Ohlau is very pleased with everything so far.

"I think anytime you can start with a win, or a pair of wins, is a pretty nice season so far," Ohlau said.

The opening set was a see-saw affair at first, which saw both the Tigers and Kahoks exchange points to make it 5-5 to get things started. After Edwardsville made it 5-5, Conway served up seven points in a row, highlighted by kills by Suhre, Huebner and Emma Garner to make it 12-5 before the Kahoks got the ball back at 12-6. Sydney Summer served up a pair of Kahok points, which included a great block from Astacia Bush to make it 12-8. Edwardsville got the ball back after that, and after another exchange of points that made it 15-10, Conway served up three straight points to make it 18-10, and from there, the Tigers scored seven of the set's last 11 points, with Huebner scoring on a nice spike, and Garner spiking a ball home to end the set 25-14 to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the match.

The second set started much like the first, with both teams exchanging points, the Tigers taking an early 4-2 lead, with Harris scoring on a spike and a tip. After another exchange that made it 6-4 for Edwardsville, Harris stepped up and served six points in a row, with Huebner and Garner combining on a block, and kills from both Huebner and Garner falling in to make the score 12-4. After another exchange that brought the score to 15-9, Tulacro served up back-to-back points to make it 17-9, forcing a Collinsville time out. The teams once again exchanged points to bring the score to 20-12, and Edwardsville scored five of the set's last seven points, with Harris delivering three kills in the sequence, including the match winner as the Tigers won the set 25-14, and the match 2-0.

Along with Harris and Garner, Huebner had two kills and two blocks, with Tulacro adding 10 assists, Conway had six digs, Harris had five and Garner four, while Harris accounted for nine points and both Conway and Suhre seven points each.

The Tigers will play back-to-back home matches next week, hosting Belleville East on Tuesday, then hold their annual Senior Night match against Belleville West on Wednesday, with both matches slated to start at 6 p.m. Ohlau is very happy with what's transpired thus far, and she thinks that her players are pumped up to be playing a season that was in doubt for much of the year.

"I think the girls are really geared for this season," Ohlau said. "I think that they're all ready, and happy that they actually get a season this year, so they're taking advantage of it as much as possible. I think did a great job of working together again tonight."

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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