ALTON — In a Southwestern Conference matchup, the O'Fallon Panthers and Alton Redbirds faced off Tuesday at Alton High School wearing pink in support of October breast cancer awareness.
The Panthers took home the win after shaking up the Redbirds 2-0 with a score of 25-16, 25-14.
With the win, OTHS improved to 22-3-1 and 4-2 in the SWC. Alton slipped to 25-5-1 and 3-2 in league play.
"Our defense was stellar tonight," O'Fallon head coach Melissa Massey said. "We've been working on defense and we feel we're really solid. We felt good about coming in tonight, but we approach our games without preconceived thoughts."
The Panthers started off Game 1 with high intensity, taking a quick 8-0 lead in the first minutes of competition. The spread reached 14-0 in favor of O'Fallon before Alton took charge and recovered to get it 18-15. O'Fallon was able to finish off the Redbirds though, allowing only one more point to put up the 25-16 Game 1 victory.
"We've been in the hole a couple times this season and were able to battle back," said Alton head coach Stacey Ferguson. "It's frustrating because you can't allow yourself to get in that position against good teams. I'm pleased that we didn't hang our heads and didn't quit."
O'Fallon was able to tuck the Redbirds in after Game 2 with a score of 25-14 by repeating the quick start. It gives Alton its first back-to-back losses this season after earning its 25th win and breaking the school record of 24 wins set in 2008.
The loss to O'Fallon has also handed the Redbirds a blow in the SWC standings with tough teams left on the schedule with Edwardsville on Thursday and Belleville West on Oct. 23rd. Both Edwardsville and Belleville West are seen as the league pacesetters as neither team has suffered a loss in SWC action.
"We've had a great season and we're not out of this yet," Ferguson said. "Yesterday was yesterday, tomorrow is tomorrow. We have a tough regional ahead of us and it's time to step up and want it more. We've always had a height advantage so we have to play harder in the back. If we're going to hang in there, we will have to pick it up."
Both Edwardsville and Belleville West have handed O'Fallon losses in the SWC, putting their conference hopes to rest for the 2014 season.
"Those were tough losses, but I really can't be all that upset," Massey said. "We battled hard and we had just made some changes. We had actually went from a 5-1 to a 6-2 in the Edwardsville game."
O'Fallon senior Aubrey Keilbach led the Panthers with 14 kills, while junior Anna Strake backed her team with six kills. Becca Althoff put up 12 digs, while junior Renae Moeller had 10 serve-receive attempts with no errors and picked up six digs. Senior setter Anne Britton had 20 assists against the Redbirds.
Alton senior setter Jordan Nolan had 10 assists and three kills, while junior Jada Green had five kills. Kailin Haug put up five service points and Megan Paulda had nine digs for the Redbirds.
"Overall we really work hard," said Haug. "We missed some key points, that just reminds us that we need to focus on fundamentals and shake it off. We've had a good season, this has been my best season so far and I'm still improving, I think it comes down to good team chemistry."
AHS is back in action at 6 p.m. Thursday at Edwardsville.