GODFREY — The Alton Redbirds volleyball team overcame a one-game deficit to defeat the Metro-East Lutheran Knights on Wednesday night in a non-conference contest at Alton High.
The Redbirds improved to 1-1 on the season with the 21-25, 25-16, 25-23 win. It was the season opener for MELHS.
The Knights established a three-point lead in the first game, but a kill from Alton’s Savannah Fisher made the score 3-1. The score remained close, within three points and was later tied at 10 points.
Metro went on a four-point run with Daniele Timmermann serving to make the score 14-10. Another Lutheran run, six points with Lydia Flaherty serving, made the score 23-13. However, the Redbirds surged, as a three-point run made the score 23-18 Knights. But MELHS held on and won the first game 25-21.
“We started off with a little too much in our heads in the first set,” Alton coach Stacey Ferguson said. “We had a tough opening night on Monday against Columbia. When you go out and play a tough team like Columbia and then come out here against Metro East which is always a good, solid program, we always go two tight games, or three game matches. So, I think we were in our heads, thinking what to do too much instead of playing our game.”
Alton’s late momentum in the first game transferred to the second game. The game was close early and tied at six points, but Sydney Schmidt’s five-point serving run made the score 15-8 Alton. Schmidt’s ace gave the Redbirds their 14th point. Alton maintained their momentum and won the second game 26-16.
“We loosened up and started doing some things, we realized we’re capable of doing more than we were doing,” Ferguson said. “You could see it unfold a lot better. You could see the confidence and the girls swinging a lot more.”
Ferguson saw room for improvement in team communication.
“We have to work better on unforced errors, the serving errors and the miscommunication on defense,” she said. “We have to be better at this so everything else falls into place.”
Lutheran coach Jon Giordano also talked about unforced errors.
“I thought we had two stretches in the second and third game,” he said. “Passing that wasn’t where it was and hitting that wasn’t where it was, we just didn’t elevate. And Alton stepped up, they just didn’t miss serves. Whereas they missed a bunch of serves in the first game and made it easier for us. We missed those serves in the second and third games, it put us back on our heals at times.”
Middle hitter Ellen Schulte is currently out of the lineup for the Knights due to a knee injury. Giordano said she’ll likely return in the first week of September.
“We have a lot of experience coming back and we need to rely on that in the coming weeks,” Giordano said of Schulte’s absence. “We hope everyone will step up even more.”
The Redbirds built a 7-3 lead in the third game. Courtney Fenelon’s kill made the score 7-4 in favor of Alton. The score was tied up at 16 and 17 points. However, Alton maintained the lead in the latter part of the game and won 25-23.
Fenelon led the Knights in kills with 10, while Timmermann chipped in with 6. Flaherty dished out 23 assists and had a team-high five aces.
The Redbirds were paced by Fisher and Saddi Brands, who each produced 8 kills. Annie Evans added seven for good measure. Sydney Schmidt divvied out 23 assists and a team-best five aces from the service line.
Alton returns to action at 6 p.m. on Aug. 30 against Fort Zumwalt South in a contest at AHS. The Knights next play at crosstown rival Father McGivney at 6 p.m. on Aug. 30 on its new Glen Carbon campus.