ROXANA – Roxana's Larry Milazzo’s Gym was the scene Monday night as the girls' volleyball season got under way with the seventh edition of Roxana's Lady Shells Volleyball Tournament.

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It was a very active evening as well, as two gyms hosted play in Pool B of the 10-team tournament, with the host Shells, Jersey and East Alton-Wood River seeing action through the night. Roxana came away with a pair of wins, downing Madison 25-9, 25-11 and Bunker Hill 21-25, 25-16, 15-6, while the Panthers downed the Oilers 19-25, 25-18, 15-9, the Trojans 25-7, 25-9 and the Minutemaids 25-12, 25-20 and the Oilers upending the Minutemaids 25-23, 25-18 in the nightcap.

“It was good to get into a game situation,” said Shells coach Mike McKinney. “We're an inexperienced team this year; we have four girls back who played last year and while practice is good, eventually you want to see them in a game. We got off to a good start and I'm really proud of them.”

No one player really stood out in McMillan's mind in the Shells' wins; everyone stepped up and contributed. “We had a lot of contributions,” McMillan said. “We still have a lot of work to do, like any team, but the girls are really playing aggressive and they're hustling. That's all you can ask.”

Taylor Jackson had five kills for Roxana in the win against Madison, with Niah Bevolo having eight assists, Taylor Westfall having six kills and Braeden Lackey adding 13 service aces. Against Bunker Hill, Bevolo had 15 assists, Kara Meyer had 11 kills and Westfall had six kills.

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“We played in spurts,” said Jersey coach Bob Siemer. “We'd get on a roll and good things would happen for us, then we'd start trading points with the other team and give back everything we'd gotten. But this was our first match, like it was for other teams, and at least we know what we need to work on.

 “There's a lot of teams that are much better than from last year. We beat Wood River a couple of times last year, and they're much better; we just got by them tonight. We did get three wins, though, so we'll take it.”

 “It was good to get out there and play tonight,” said Oiler coach Patti Scott. “We're learning how to play together; we've got 10 seniors and we started five of them and a sophomore tonight. We have three seniors returning from last year, so once we figure out things and get into sync with each other, they'll be good.

 “You can scrimmage and practice, but once you see them against other teams, you get a better idea of how things are. The girls do have some skills, but we've got some work to do. Once we learn how to get things together, we'll be fine.”

Play resumes at 5 p.m. today, with Pool A matches featuring Hardin-Calhoun, Mount Olive, Marquette, Gillespie and Dupo taking place in two gyms. Hardin-Calhoun meets up with Dupo at 5 p.m. in the large gym and Marquette in the small gym at 6 p.m. Marquette also takes on Mount Olive at 7 p.m. and Gillespie at 8 p.m. in the large gym.

The final pool matches begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by place matches; the first-place team in Pool A meets the first-place team in Pool B for the championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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