EDWARDSVILLE — The O’Fallon Panthers volleyball team overcame a slow start to defeat the Edwardsville Tigers 11-25, 25-14, 25-16 in Thursday's Southwestern Conference contest at Lucco-Jackson Gym.
The Tigers (3-5, 1-1) established a commanding lead in the first game. They held their biggest lead at 18-4, but the Panthers started to show some life late in the game. With Gabe Norsigian serving, O’Fallon went on a five-point run, as the score was 22-11 Edwardsville at the end of the run. However, Edwardsville scored the final three points to win the first game 25-11.
“In the first game, we were on our heels,” O’Fallon coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “We were playing as individuals instead of playing as a team. I told them they need to go out there and win it. They’ve been telling me they want it but that doesn’t mean that you want it. It’s a lot easier said than done. We went out there and took care of business. I was happy that they were able to bounce back.”
The Panthers’ (2-0, 2-0) momentum building continued in the second game. The contest was tied at one-point early, but O’Fallon earned and never lost control of the lead after that. The Panthers’ produced big kills in the second game. Lucas Hackmann’s kill made the score 10-5 O’Fallon and kills by Mike Hovick made the score 12-9 and 14-9 O’Fallon, respectively. The Panthers won the second game 25-14.
“They’re a really good team, we knew that going in,” Edwardsville coach Andy Bersett said. “We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t make enough passes, I think. This hurt us today, in terms of us getting options at the net. I thought we battled and that’s an excellent team.”
On the bright side, Bersett thought his team put together a good serving game.
“I thought we served well,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been struggling with. I thought we could have served more aggressively, but at times we served well. I thought (Nick) Allen looked good. Mike (Horton) makes the right decisions, he’s been setting for about a month now. The problem is that he’s limited in his decisions because the passes weren’t to the net. We battled today. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re not a good volleyball team right now, that’s what I told the boys. We just need to keep working at it. We need to be a bit more of a ball control team, we don’t have a big presence at the net.”
The third game was tied early, but a four-point O’Fallon run made the score 10-6 Panthers. From that point on, Edwardsville never came within four points and O’Fallon won the third game 25-16.
Bersett said he thought the communication in the latter part of the match could have been better.
“It’s been one of my frustrations in those second and third sets,” he said. “We need guys taking charge. When the other team puts the ball in play, they make you make decisions more often. That’s really what they did, they put the ball in play in the second and third game. We didn’t make the right decisions, defensively, the drops, pushing the ball to the net, things like that.”
Luke Meidel led O’Fallon with eight kills. Hitter Nick Allen led Edwardsville with 13 kills. Also for Edwardsville, defensive specialist Spencer Burach finished with 14 digs while committing no errors. Setter Mike Horton finished the contest with 22 assists and three blocks. In addition, Tommy Hartnagel finished with eight digs.
Next up for the Tigers is another SWC match at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at home vs. Granite City.