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EDWARDSVILLE – Edwardsville's boys volleyballers had their home opener Thursday evening at Lucco-Jackson Gym against Southwestern Conference rival O'Fallon.

The Tigers and Panthers played a close match, with OTHS prevailing 27-25, 31-29 to drop EHS to 5-3 on the young season, 1-1 in the SWC; the Panthers went to 2-0 on the year, both overall and in the league.

“It was a close match,” said Tiger coach Andy Bersett. “Both games were decided by two points – it always is – and it's not a big surprise there; I thought they gave us opportunities with their service errors and we had some service errors at the end. It was a tough battle and they're a good team – we knew that coming in.

“Every point counts; it's a battle. I mean, if you look at the scores between us and O'Fallon the last six or seven years, I bet they're all pretty close and tonight was no different.”

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O'Fallon's attackers played well and that was the difference in the match, Bersett thought. “We just couldn't get enough stops against them,” Bersett said. “They gave us opportunities on their service errors and we couldn't take advantage of them because we couldn't get stops on them on defense; that was the bottom line.

“We could side-out, but when it came time to actually score some points on defense, we struggled because I don't think our blocking was that great, but we knew it was the first game against them this year and both teams will look a little different the next time we face them.”

The Panthers got out to a 5-2 lead in the opener, OTHS then running it to 9-6 and 12-8 at one point in the game; the Tigers rallied to forge a 14-14 tie before the teams traded points, Edwardsville never taking the lead in that sequence until they grabbed an 18-17 lead. O'Fallon took the lead back until a violation gave EHS a 23-22 lead in the late going, prompting the Panthers to call time out.

OTHS regrouped and came to game point before the Tigers tied it at 24-24, the teams again trading points before O'Fallon managed to get the two points to win Game 1.

Edwardsville jumped out to a 6-2 lead at the start of Game 2 and held it until the Panthers got on a run that gave them the lead at 10-9; the teams again traded points until O'Fallon got to a 17-15 lead. It stayed close the rest of the way, the game eventually going to 24-24. Both teams found ways to take the lead in that late going, but the Panthers finally forged their way to get the two points needed to clinch the match.

Next up for the Tigers is a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday home match against Granite City and a 5:30 p.m. April 5 match at home against CBC.

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