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Alton's Kailin Haug prepares to serve during the Alton Tournament on Saturday at AHS.
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Savannah Fisher and Jada Green of the Redbirds go up for a block in the finals against Roxana on Saturday.
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Civic Memorial's Sydney Marshall looks to set a ball on Saturday vs, Carrollton in the Alton Tournament.
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Roxana's Maddy Sheraka and Bailey McGuire go up for a block against Carrollton on Saturday at the Alton Tournament.
ALTON — Another tournament, another title.
After winning the championship of the Redbird Classic last weekend, the Alton Redbird volleyball team did it again by winning the Alton Tournament on Saturday at AHS.
By going 5-0 in the tournament, Alton improved to 16-1 overall on the season.
Following Alton in the standings were: Jersey, Carrollton, Roxana, Fort Zumwalt North and Civic Memorial.
"It's been really great," AHS senior setter Jordan Nolan said, who was named tournament MVP for the second straight weekend. "This being my last year it's been amazing. I couldn't ask for a better season so far."
The Redbirds supplied the exclamation point with a dominant 25-5, 25-17 victory over Roxana in the title tilt.
That followed a 25-23, 25-15 win over Carrollton; a 28-26, 25-20 win over Fort Zumwalt North on Friday; a 25-10, 23-25, 15-12 victory over CM and a 28-26, 19-25, 15-6 triumph over Jersey earlier on Saturday.
AHS head coach Stacey Ferguson was pleased to see the Redbirds close out strong against Roxana after struggling in some of the earlier wins.
"We struggled with a lot of the matches throughout this tournament, just not staying up," Ferguson said. "(Against Roxana) they made a decision to jump on them right off the bat."
Unfortunately for the Shells, the loss to Alton was their second of the tournament and due to the point system dropped them from a possible first-place finish into fourth. They lost to Jersey 25-10, 25-23 and beat CM 25-21, 20-25, 15-10 on Friday. On Saturday they bested Carrollton 25-15, 12-25, 16-14 and FZN 15-25, 25-16, 15-6 to set up the showdown with Alton.
Roxana head coach Mike McKinney thought the tournament went well for the Shells.
"Last night we came and played pretty flat and lost to Jerseyville and didn't have that much pep in our step and then we rebounded by beating CM," McKinney said. "I told the girls this morning, 'Win the first two and play Alton for the championship, that's all you can ask for.' We battled hard in two matches against Carrollton and Fort Zumwalt North and won those and put ourselves in a position to play Alton, and I think we just ran out of steam."
The Shells were within two points, trailing 7-5, when Alton decided to kick it into the next gear during Game 1 of the title match.
The Redbirds raced out on an 18-0 run to cruise to the Game 1 victory. All-in-all, Alton compiled seven aces in the set, including three straight from Kailin Haug to close it out. Haug had five aces in the game, while Megan Paulda added the two more early on.
Jada Green was also dominant in the hitting game, slamming down four kills during the streak.
"All the way around, serving was not an issue and sometimes we have those games where we have crucial ones where we miss and that game we really controlled our serving and really maintained the match," Ferguson said.
"(Green) definitely stepped it up this tournament in crucial times. She had some bad times — the whole team did — but she really put it together at the moments it really counted and definitely in this match she did."
The Redbirds bottled that momentum to start Game 2, jumping out to an 11-2 lead, highlighted by an ace and a kill from Paulda, an ace from Nolan and a kill by Haug.
The Shells recovered to get it back to 11-7 behind the serving of Bailey McGuire, which included an ace along the way, but that was as close as they could get the rest of the game.
Roxana dwindled it to 22-17 late on another ace by McGuire, but Alton was able to go on a 3-0 run to close it out.
"They had that one rotation where they scored 18 in a row (in Game 1)," McKinney said. "I don't know if we were getting tired from playing back to back to back, but I'm proud of them. We went 3-2 (in tournament) and we could have easily gone 1-4 with the mindset of, 'Well, we can't win the tournament.' But the girls stepped it up and we beat the two teams this morning to put ourselves in the position we wanted to be in. I'll take 3-2 in this tournament every year."
For CM, the tournament wasn't as rewarding. The Eagles went 0-5, but took three of those five matches to three games, including a 25-10, 23-25, 15-11 loss to the Redbirds.
On Friday, CM fell 25-17, 23-25, 15-2 to Jersey and 25-21, 21-25, 15-11 to Roxana. Then on Saturday after losing to Alton, stumbled 25-15, 25-19 against FZN and 25-16, 25-21 to Carrollton.
"We got some experience, but I expect us to have the three-game matches with Alton," Eagles head coach Amanda Biggs said. "I expect us to compete with those schools and not settle for a three-game effort and a loss. I want us to be a dominant team.
"It was a highlight for sure (taking Alton to a third game), but that's also my expectation. That's where our level of play needs to be and we need to have that mentality that we are just as capable of competing against a team from the (Southwestern Conference)."
In their final match against Carrollton, the Eagles fell behind 11-3 early. A kill by Baleigh Gehrs started a 4-0 run for CM to cut it to 11-7, but that was as close as it could get, ultimately falling 25-16.
The Eagles fared a little better in Game 2, owning leads early on. They held a 13-11 lead when the Hawks reeled off three straight points to take a 14-13 lead. A kill by Alaina Trosley knotted it at 14-14, but CM could never regain the lead.
Baleigh Gehrs got them close late with kills to cut it to 20-17 and 23-21, but it wasn't enough. Gehrs finished with five kills vs. Carrollton, including four in Game 2.
Biggs said it's just gaining confidence in themselves for the Eagles right now.
"One of our biggest downfalls is when we get down we let other teams get runs on us and we have a really hard time coming back," Biggs said. "We're still working on trying to overcome adversity and take it point by point and realize it's not a point for effort; it's a point for score and we're still trying to realize that."
The all-tournament team included three players from Alton in Green, Paulda and the MVP Nolan. CM's Cara Melton and Roxana's Maddy Sheraka also made it, along with: Sydney Hagen and Kristen Marshall of Jersey, Rachel Williams and Michaela Weber of Carrollton and Miranda Hoeckelmann of FZN.
Nolan compiled 20 service points and 115 assists over the weekend to propel her to a second straight MVP award. Ferguson pointed to her consistency as the key to her accolades.
"I think the reason she's earned that title both tournaments is she has been consistent and she consistently works hard and she consistently puts that ball in play for our hitters," Ferguson said. "She works with whatever passes she gets and she hustles. She's played very well within both tournaments."