GRANITE CITY – The Alton Redbirds had a chance to play another home match this year.
All the Redbirds had to do was to win the Class 4A Granite City Regional. A regional championship would qualify the Redbirds for the Springfield Sectional, where they would be playing the Belleville West Regional champion in the semifinals at Alton High on Nov. 3.
But the Redbirds will not be playing another home match. Their season ended on Monday with a 25-22, 20-25, 30-28 loss to the Chatham Glenwood Titans in a first-round match at Granite City’s Memorial Gymnasium.
“It was tough,” Alton senior Kailin Haug said. “We never played them and not a lot of teams in our conference have, so we didn’t know what to expect.”
Alton, the No. 7 seed, ended its season at 21-13-1. The Redbirds lost their last nine matches.
Alton had a 21-4 record after beating Granite City on Oct. 6. Then, the Redbirds lost to Mater Dei, went 0-4 in the Highland Round Robin Tournament and dropped conference games to O’Fallon, Edwardsville and Belleville West.
“It’s almost like this every year,” Alton senior Jada Green said. “The end of our schedule is a lot harder and lot tougher teams. We had a lot more conference games. So we knew in our heads that we were doing really good. But we haven’t faced our best teams yet. We didn’t know what to expect and we knew they were going to be good and we just try to play our hardest. Unfortunately, we did lose the last nine matches, but I think we played hard.”
The Titans, who were seeded ninth, improved to 13-18. They will play top-seeded O’Fallon at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the regional semifinals at O’Fallon.
“It was really exciting,” Glenwood coach Amanda O’Rourke said. “We have a pretty young team, so we’ve been building towards regionals this whole season and we were really believing that we can use our momentum from this past weekend. I thought we did a pretty good job of coming out fired up and not letting up.”
Quincy, which beat Granite City in two games in the other first-round match on Monday, plays Edwardsville in the other regional semifinals on Tuesday at O’Fallon. The regional semifinals were moved to O’Fallon because a band concert is scheduled for Tuesday at GCHS’s Memorial Gymnasium. The championship match will be played on Thursday at GCHS.
Glenwood also put an end to the high school volleyball careers of Green and Haug. Both seniors played with the Alton volleyball program all four years.
The Redbirds return three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman next year.
“We have a young team,” Haug said. “They got a lot of experience this year, so I think they’ll do great next year.”
In the first game, the Redbirds came back from a 10-8 deficit to take a 14-10 lead after sophomore Sydney Schmidt served five straight points. Alton never trailed the rest of the game.
In the second game, junior Savannah Fisher served back-to-back aces to give Alton a 10-8 lead. But the Titans rallied with a 10-3 run to take an 18-13 lead they didn’t relinquish.
Glenwood stormed to a 10-5 lead in the third game, but the Redbirds rallied to take a 25-24 lead. Alton was at match point three times in the third game, but couldn’t pull it off.
“I think we probably could have done better hadn’t we gotten down so far,” Green said. “We kind of dug ourselves a ditch and it was hard to come back out on top.”
Down 28-27, the Titans came back with a 3-0 run to win the game and match. Glenwood sophomore Makenzie Bray scored a kill on match point.
Haug said she was pleased with her team’s effort despite the three-game loss to Glenwood.
“I have to say that was probably one of the best games we played this season,” the Alton senior said. “It was a tough battle. We won the first set and we were pumped then. When they won the second set, they were pumped then. From there, we were just going at it and unfortunately, they came out on top.”