GRANITE CITY -- Kasey Stewart has a new look.
After wearing glasses for most of the season, the five-foot-tall Granite City senior setter is wearing contacts.
“It’s a big difference from glasses,” said Stewart, who started wearing contacts two weeks ago.
Stewart hopes her new look will help the Warriors turn things around as their regular season comes down to their final weeks. Granite City is 9-11-1 overall and 2-4 in Southwestern Conference play after beating the Alton Redbirds 25-20, 25-19 on Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference match at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Warriors won their third match in a row. Last week, they had wins over Cahokia and East St. Louis.
“I think we’re working together and we’re being a team,” Stewart said. “They’re giving their 100 percent out there.”
Alton lost its fourth straight match and dropped to 12-12-1 overall and 0-4 in conference play. The Redbirds were 7-1 after winning the Redbird Classic on Sept. 3.
“We had some things going on and some adjustments we had to make throughout the season,” Alton coach Stacey Ferguson said. “It’s definitely been kind of a tough bout here these last few weeks.”
Alton travels to Mater Dei on Thursday, then it will play five matches in the Highland Tournament this weekend.
“Hopefully, we’ll get them in the gym tomorrow and work out some things and play well Thursday (against Mater Dei) and Friday and Saturday at the Highland Tournament,” Ferguson said. “Hopefully, we can get things going the way we need to and move back into the direction in pushing for wins and playing hard. Tonight, I felt like we didn’t play hard when we needed to. Obviously, it showed on the scoreboard at the end.”
The Warriors play at Dupo at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. They will play in the Red Bud Tournament on Saturday.
With Tuesday’s win, Granite City avenged the two-game loss to the Redbirds on Sept. 3 at the Redbird Classic.
“Alton’s a really good squad,” Granite City coach Ginger Harrison said. “To take them in two the way we did was a much needed momentum and push going into tomorrow’s game at Dupo and this weekend at the Red Bud Tournament. It was a really nice win and a good effort from all of the girls. They worked really hard.”
The Warriors also won their second straight conference match after starting off at 0-4.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Granite City senior libero Ciara Yon said. “It’s fun to put the pieces together and get a win out of it. We definitely worked hard for this win. I’m very proud of the girls. We all worked really hard tonight and I’m glad we came out on top tonight.”
The Warriors were 5-3 on Sept. 7 before going 1-8-1 in their next 10 matches.
“They went through a little patch,” Harrison said. “I was up many nights thinking about what was happening. There was that long push in the beginning of the season where we played 15 games in 17 days and we don’t get much of a break and we get very few practices and I really think they were mentally tired.”
Harrison said a trip to Mr. Twist Ice Cream on Sept. 27 helped her team regain its confidence.
“I told them to bring their running shoes and they thought they were running and we literally walked down the street to Mr. Twist,” Harrison said. “We got an ice cream. We walked back and we had a team meeting just reset our minds and it seemed to work. We just needed a little mental break to get refocused and they have been on top of it. I couldn’t have asked for much more. They’re working their tails off.”
The Warriors already have surpassed last year’s win total of seven and they’re inching closer of reaching in double digits in victories for the first time since 2003, when they finished 15-15.
“I love it,” Stewart said. “We’re working really hard in practices and everything. We all give our 100 percent. No one slacks.”
Stewart transferred to Granite City from Mt. Vernon last year. This fall, she’s playing in her first varsity season with the Warriors and quickly became one of the team’s key players.
Stewart’s biggest strength has been her blistering serves. With the Warriors leading 19-16 in the second game against Alton on Tuesday, Stewart served four straight points.
“She’s got that tough little serve,” Harrison said. “You don’t expect that line drive to come out of that little bitty body. She’s a tough little server and she’s smart on the floor. She’s unpredictable because of her size. She’s a good little player.”
Harrison said ever since Stewart started wearing contacts, her serving has gotten much better.
“She could not believe the difference in seeing the ball,” the Granite City coach said. “She didn’t realize how bad it was before.”
Stewart is one of nine seniors on the Granite City squad. She said she hopes to continue her volleyball career in college.
“I love it,” Stewart said. “It’s a lot of fun. This is what I live for. I’m all about volleyball.”