EDWARDSVILLE — There’s nothing like rediscovering the past in the world of prep sports.
And the Edwardsville Tigers girls’ volleyball team did just that this weekend. The Tigers turned in a banner performance in winning the Tiger Classic at Edwardsville High School on Saturday for the first time since 2007.
The Tigers defeated another Southwestern Conference team, the O’Fallon Panthers, 25-23, 25-21 in the championship game.
In the first game vs. the Panthers, Edwardsville's tournament MVP Rachel Pranger’s kill made it 4-0. The Tigers owned an eight-point lead (18-10) at one time, however, O’Fallon continued to fight and tied the score at 23-23. The Tigers were able to hold on for a 25-23 win though.
“This was a great win,” Edwardsville coach Jami Parker said. “I was really impressed with the girls, they were steady the whole time. They had their ups and downs, but they played their game and did a great job.”
In the second game, it was tied early at one, two, three, four, six, seven and eight points. A three-point run made the score 11-8 and the Tigers never lost the lead after that.
In the championship game, Pranger, an outside hitter, finished with 13 kills and middle hitter Kate Martin finished with eight. Martin had 3 blocks and Pranger had two. Martin also had two aces. Setter Rachel Verdun finished with 22 digs. The MVP Pranger, Martin and libero Megan Woll made the all-tournament team.
“This is pretty amazing,” Pranger said. “We haven’t won this in a few years, it’s an honor. The Tiger Classic is a big tournament with a lot of good teams in it, it’s a good starter tournament.”
Pranger added about her MVP award, “I’m really honored and I know I wouldn’t be here without my team.”
Parker gave credit to Verdun. She said the setter “did a great job of running the offense” and said that she “quarterbacked” the team.
Edwardsville started the tournament on Friday with wins over Auburn and Morton in straight games during pool play. On Saturday morning, it defeated Farmington 25-17, 25-21 in pool play to advance to the semi-final round of play against Eureka.
“It’s really great,” Parker said on playing so many teams in a compact time period. “The teams in this tournament are really strong teams. We saw a lot of competition this weekend. The girls made adjustments as we played throughout the weekend.”
With the wins in the Tiger Classic, Edwardsville improves to 6-0.
“It’s been a long time since we started this way,” Parker said. “You can never complain about being 6-0. The girls are working really hard and this is a great group of kids.”
The Tigers faced a challenge in the semifinal round against Eureka, as they survived a late, second game surge to win in straight games.
The second game was reasonably close throughout the whole time. The Tigers built a four-point lead (11-7) early, but couldn’t sustain the momentum to put the Wildcats away.
A kill from Pranger gave Edwardsville another four-point lead at 14-10. Eureka surged toward the end and the score was tied at 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 points. Pranger turned in kills to give her team a tie at 23 and 25 points. The Tigers pulled off a 29-27 win. They won the first game 25-21.
Next up for EHS is St. Joseph's Academy at Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a non-conference showdown. The Angels have started 4-0 on the season.