GODFREY – A quick start and fast finish propelled the Alton High volleyball team to a gratifying Senior Night win Tuesday at AHS.
Savannah Fisher of the Redbirds supplied the start and teammate Jada Green provided the finish as Alton defeated Granite City, 25-12, 26-24 in a Southwestern Conference match.
The Birds, beating the Warriors for the second time this season, improved to 21-4-1 and 2-2. One of those victories over Granite City came in the Alton Tournament. The Warriors dropped to 4-15-2 and 1-5.
“This was one of our biggest comebacks of the season,” said Green, a senior hitter. She accounted for six kills overall, including one to put the Redbirds in front 25-24 during the second game.
They added another point after that to cap an improbable comeback. Granite City led 15-6 and then owned a 23-19 advantage before the Redbirds rallied furiously for the win.
“We had one other comeback when we scored the final nine points to beat Orchard Farm after we trailed 13-6 in our tournament,” AHS coach Stacey Ferguson said. “Tonight’s was nice because it was in a conference match.
“I couldn’t ask for a better first game from our players. Then we came out the second game like we expected to win instead of earning a win. But once we realized we had to earn it, we went out and got some momentum going.
"We can't get too comfortable playing against anybody.”
Fisher, a junior hitter, contributed five kills, two blocks and three consecutive aces in the first game to keep the Redbirds rolling. After her third ace, they led 19-9 and never looked back.
“Savannah is probably our best overall player,” Ferguson said. “She can do it all: offense, defense and serving.”
Green is closing in on school records for single-season and career kills. Andrea McPike, a 2008 AHS graduate, holds both marks.
“I think I’m playing my best right now,” said Green, seeking to attend the University of Kentucky and major in economics.
Kailin Haug, the other Redbirds’ senior, collected four kills. Junior starters Gwen Hunter, Annie Evans and Kassie Funke, plus sophomore setter Sydney Schmidt also got in on the fun. Hunter and Schmidt combined for five aces to stymie the Warriors’ return game.
“We’ve been right in there and very close in a lot of games,” Granite City coach Ginger Harrison said of the team’s tough-luck plight. “I’m very proud of them because they play hard and they did that again tonight.
“A couple of calls tonight changed the momentum a little bit. But we have to find a way not to get rattled and keep our focus.”
Morgan Tanksley, a 5-foot-11 sophomore and Skylar Dippel, a 5-9 junior, teamed for nine kills to keep the Warriors in the thick of things. Ciara Yon also delivered some timely serving.
Yet Granite City couldn’t get to a third game and that enabled Alton to close out the Warriors quicker than they anticipated.
“Volleyball is a quick game and we have worked on some defensive changes,” Harrison said of the Warriors’ inconsistent service returns. “We kind of got caught not being in the right place a few times.”
The Redbirds’ schedule becomes more rugged starting Thursday night. Alton welcomes powerful Breese Mater Dei, then competes in the Highland Tournament on Friday and Saturday.