EDWARDSVILLE – Jada Green got going and so did the rest of the Alton High volleyball team Wednesday night at Hooks Gym.
The 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter provided 10 kills and the Redbirds needed every one of them to subdue gritty Metro East Lutheran in a three-game nonconference match. The Knights won the first game 25-22. Then the Redbirds rebounded to prevail 25-15 and 25-22. Alton improved to 1-1. It was MELHS’ opener.
“We worked together when he needed to do it,” said Green, who had four kills apiece in the second and third games. “The first game was a little rough, then we picked up our intensity after that and got it together.”
Sophomore Sydney Schmidt supplied 22 assists and had a nice tip at the net for the final point of the night. “She is becoming a good setter and she made a pretty good play to end the (third) game. It was very timely.”
Kassie Funke collected 20 digs, while Savannah Fisher, Annie Evans, Kailin Haug, Alexis Shaw, Josie Hagen, Gwen Hunter and Calista Cox also pitched in with some timely play. Evans and Haug combined for nine kills.
“It was a tough match and that’s what we always expect when we play them,” AHS coach Stacey Ferguson said of the Knights. “We knew that we would have to earn a win – and we did that.”
The Knights won the opener in a tight game that was tied 13 times. MELHS’ three-point win was the largest difference along the way.
“I think we have a lot of options,” said Metro East Lutheran coach Jon Giordano, reflecting on his team’s outlook this season. “We have a good mix of youth and experience.”
He added, “I thought we did a good job of battling them. The difference tonight was that they (Redbirds) made more key plays than we did. We could have folder, but we didn’t stop fighting.”
Freshman Ellen Schulte, a product of Trinity Lutheran High in Edwardsville, excelled in her first varsity match. The 5-foot-8 middle hitter registered five kills and a block. Teammates Danielle Timmermann, Courtney Fenelon and Audrey Paitz backed her around the net. Ashlee Robinson, a 6-0 junior, logged three aces.
Green said the Redbirds jelled at the right time. They lost their season opener to Columbia on Monday and didn’t want to experience the same fate.
“It’ll really help us to get a win because it will give us more confidence,” she said.
Ferguson, a former MELHS assistant, added: “I was a little concerned after the first game because I thought we had a lack of focus. Then we started putting it together and we had to do that because Metro East Lutheran is always tough.
“It never fails when we play them. It’s a great match and it’s fun.”
The Redbirds have key matches next week with East Alton-Wood River (Tuesday), Belleville East (Wednesday), plus their own tournament (Saturday, Sept. 5). Green, one of three seniors on the team, figures to be a factor in all of them.
“Jada has the potential to become our single-season leader and career leader in kills,” Ferguson said.