GODFREY — Some strong net play and solid serving propelled the Alton High volleyball team to a win Tuesday.
The Redbirds used both facets of their game to defeat visiting East Alton-Wood River, 25-17, 25-16 in a nonconference rivalry match. Alton improved to 2-1, while EA-WR dropped to 3-4.
“ It’s the beginning of the season, so we want to get all the kinks worked out and get in the right spots,” AHS senior Kailin Haug said. “I think our work ethic will determine how good we can be this season.”
The Redbirds used 24 kills, which accounted for nearly half of their points, to fend off the spunky Oilers. In addition, sophomore Sydney Schmidt went on an eight-point serving spree in the middle of the second game to erase an EA-WR lead and give the Birds a 20-13 advantage.
“ Sydney is learning a new position as our setter and there’s a lot of decision-making for her. She’s doing a good job of it and helping our setters,” Alton coach Stacey Ferguson said. Schmidt logged15 assists, nine service points and three aces.
Haug added, “She (Schmidt) has a strong serve and she has big shoes to fill, but she’s doing well and adapting to our hitters.” Schmidt has replaced the graduated Jordan Nolan, the AdVantage News Player of the Year, as the Redbirds’ setter.
Annie Evans, Calista Cox and Kassidy Funke supplied more firepower as the Redbirds won their second successive match. Evans came off the bench to record four kills.
EA-WR coach Patti Scott noted, “Alton has a lot of talent and I thought we had more difficult with their serving than their play at the net. She (Schmidt) put a lot of spins on her serves.”
Senior Jada Green registered seven kills and a block to lead the Redbirds’ front line. Alexis Shaw contributed five kills and a block. Haug pitched in with four kills and a block, while Savannah Fisher collected three kills, two blocks and a pair of aces.
“ We had to work for all of our points because they (Oilers) are scrappy,” Ferguson said. “We have the offensive talent to score some points, but we have to make sure we keep everything else clean. We can’t give away points and have unforced errors.”
Lexie Johnson, Natalie Mundel and Shelby Yarborough combined for six kills to spur the Oilers. Morgan Moxey, Christen Falstitch and Brittany Grayson also contributed to the cause.
“ We played hard, hung in there and didn’t quit,” Scott said. “I was pretty proud of our effort. If we play where we are aggressive instead of just playing it safe, we’re pretty good.
“ And from what I see, I like this team. It’s evolving.”
While EA-WR resumes competition Thursday at Jersey, the Redbirds welcome Gillespie, Southwestern, Triad, Granite City and Orchard Farm of St. Charles, Mo. this weekend in their six-team classic. Action starts Friday and concludes Saturday.
“ The tournament will test our stamina and mental game,” Ferguson said. “We will play some competitive teams and we have to be ready to play. It will be challenging for us.”
She’s leaning on Haug, Green and Shaw to provide senior guidance and keep the Redbirds pointed in the right direction.
“ My role is to be one of the biggest leaders on the team, keep the energy level up and be a role model,” Haug said.
Ferguson sees good things ahead. “We have the determination to improve and we need to create kills for Jada up front," she said. "So we need to focus on the importance of our back row play for our defense."