BELLEVILLE – Jada Green is a big reason why the Alton Redbirds’ volleyball team is flying high early in the season.
She made that abundantly clear by soaring near the net Wednesday night in Belleville.
Green helped take control of things during the second game as the Redbirds defeated host Belleville East, 25-22, 25-20, in their Southwestern Conference opener.
“We really played well and controlled the ball,” Green said. “It feels good to win and it’s very exciting about the way we are playing. We are really a coherent team this year and we’re looking for big things.”
Alton, winning for the eighth consecutive time, improved to 11-1 and gave sixth-year coach Stacey Ferguson her 100th career victory. Belleville East is 1-4 and 0-1.
“That’s the first time we have beaten Belleville East since I’ve been head coach, so it’s a big win for us,” Ferguson said. “We won on the road against a conference team. That’s a good way to start in the conference.”
Green, a junior hitter, bunched together four of her five kills in the second game to keep the Redbirds percolating. They trailed 7-6, then went on an eight-point spurt to snare the momentum.
The Lancers closed to 17-16, but could get no closer. It followed the pattern of Game 1 when the Birds used a 9-1 binge to shoot in front 16-11 and maintain their lead. They withstood the net work of East’s Shelby Ridgeway, who accounted for six kills, two more than teammate Holly Badgely.
“What I’m most proud of is the way we are winning,” Ferguson said. “We’re responding to situations the right way and we are playing like we are all in this together.
“We are supporting each other and trying to be the best we can.”
Ferguson said Green is emerging as a major force for the Redbirds, built around multiple quality players.
“Jada was shy and introverted, but she has really opened up this year,” Ferguson said. “She has shown what she can do and she can really slam the ball on the court.”
And Green noted, “I think the strongest part of my game is at the net.”
Jordan Nolan (10 service points), Megan Paulda (four kills and seven digs), Kailin Haug (eight service points), Rachel Cauley (three kills) and sophomore Savannah Fisher (three kills) also made vital contributions.
“What we did was spread it around and that’s good to see,” Ferguson said. “We keep raising our expectations and we want to be competitive in the conference.”
Next up is the Redbirds’ tournament on Friday and Saturday at the AHS gym. They finished first in their tourney last week.
“We played well in the Redbird Classic and we have a solid team,” Ferguson said. “Our season starts getting more difficult, but I hope the girls realize that we can win.”