Junior Maddie Isringhausen has been a dominant player for Edwardsville's girls volleyball team at the net all season. Here, she delivers a strong spike. (Photos by Dan Brannan)

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EDWARDSVILLE – It was another learning experience for the young Edwardsville High girls’ volleyball team, as the Tigers lost to Cor Jesu Academy of Affton, Mo., 25-21, 25-20 Wednesday evening at Lucco-Jackson Gym in the annual Volley For The Cure match for breast cancer awareness.

The gym was adorned with pink and white streamers and balloons, while both sides wore pink jerseys for the match. In a pre-match ceremony, survivors of and those still undergoing treatment for breast cancer were recognized and honored.

As for the match itself, it was more of the same for the Tigers. Mistakes cost Edwardsville and when they did come to within one point several times, the Chargers came up with the answers to keep the Tigers at bay.

“It feels like the same old thing,” said Edwardsville coach Lisa Orlet. “I did talk to them about that, here, I’m going to be saying the same old thing that you’re young, and that you’re growing, but you just can’t get over your own errors. I think our biggest plug is right now is for them to understand that their mental game is that they have to play for each other. They can’t worry about an error, they can’t hang on to it, as if they’re embarrassed about it or they look bad. They have to move on from it and get the next ball and be of service to their team, instead of carrying that error into the next play, or pouting or looking bad. And I think that they’re not good at moving on to the next ball consistent enough.”

Orlet spoke of emotional IQ, where the Tigers need to just keep moving forward during the match instead of dwelling on a mistake on the previous play.

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“That what tells me when you have a team that, it’s not just one part of your game falling apart, where building a serve and then a block out of position, or that out of position,” Orlet said. “We talk a lot about it, emotional intelligence. Their athleticism is top of the line. Their volleyball IQs are good. Their emotional IQs have to just be elevated. And It comes, it’ll come. But this feeling that they’re having after these losses has to get to where it’s just enough.”

In the match, the Tigers did come to within one point four times and were poised to tie the game, but Cor Jesu came up with a play each time to swing the momentum back the Chargers’ way.

“Absolutely,” Orlet said. “I think they have about three Division I players on their team, and girls that have been playing open ball for a number of years together; there’s three of them that have been playing together since they were 13, and I think that helps. They’ve been in those situations countless times, and so they play with a lot more confidence, and they were their go-to players for sure.”

The Tigers also had difficulty handling the Chargers’ serving, which was a factor in the match.

“We’ve been working a lot on it, so I was surprised at the tightness in our serve receive,” Orlet said. “We just weren’t attacking the serves. I’m not taking anything away from them, but we’ve seen tough servers all year, and I think that (Belleville) Althoff (Catholic) had a way tougher serving team, and we didn’t fall apart that much. I think part of it the emotional IQ, and wanting the ball. Serve receive is such that you have to be prepared to move your feet and attack the ball.”

The Chargers started out game one by scoring the first four points, getting three aces from Emily Henken before the Tigers got their first point. The Chargers extended their lead to 7-2, and eventually to 11-5 on service points from Jillian Mattingly and Emma Comparato. The two sides then traded points before a Mattingly spike and helped make it 17-12. The Tigers got the ball back, and Morgan Tulacro served for three consecutive points, aided by three straight spikes from Alexa Harris to pull Edwardsville to within 17-16. But Jennifer Nuell stopped the Tigers’ rally, and another point made it 19-16, forcing Edwardsville to call timeout. The Tigers again rallied to make it 20-19, and again to 22-21, but the Chargers scored the last three points to take the game 25-21.

Cor Jesu jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in game two, on the serving of Maddie Hoffman and Nuelle, and a Mattingly spike. After an Edwardsville timeout, the teams again traded points before the Chargers were able to extend its lead to 14-6. After the Tigers made it 14-7, Rhianna Huebner lead a rally with six straight service points, which included spikes from Harris and Maddie Isringhausen to cut the lead to 14-13. But Kelsey Watson’s spike stopped the rally, and the Chargers scored five of the next six points to extend the lead to 20-14. Cor Jesu then went to a 24-19 lead and match point, but a Harris dink made it 24-20, giving the ball back to the Tigers. A Charger spike ended the game and match 25-20 for Cor Jesu.

The Tigers, now 9-8 on the season, go on the road for three Southwestern Conference matches, starting tonight at Collinsville, then playing at O’Fallon on Tuesday evening and at Belleville East Oct. 4. Edwardsville returns home Oct. 11 against Alton, and against Breese Mater Dei Catholic Oct. 15.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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