GRANITE CITY – After playing 14 matches and two tournaments in the last three weeks, the Edwardsville Tigers are glad to have the weekend off.
“It’s a nice weekend off for us to rest up our bodies,” Edwardsville senior Nicki Meyer said.
The Tigers will take a 11-3 record into the weekend after beating the Granite City Warriors 25-8, 25-12 in their Southwestern Conference opener on Thursday at GCHS’ Memorial Gymnasium. Edwardsville returns to action on Tuesday with a home match against Althoff.
“We’ve had a rough 10-14 days here,” Edwardsville coach Jami Parker said. “We went from the Tiger Classic to playing St. Joe’s and go right into Effingham (to play in the Crossroads Classic) and they turned around and played Triad without the day off. The girls can really use the weekend off to rest and get some sleep. Hopefully, we’ll have some fresh legs for next week.”
The Warriors dropped to 5-6. They will not get the weekend off as they will be preparing for their Fall Classic on Saturday.
“We’re going to regroup tomorrow and come back in practice and go into the weekend strong to come out with our heads up high,” Granite City coach Ginger Harrison said.
Granite City will play Red Bud, Highland, Civic Memorial and Southwestern in the five-team tournament. The Warriors have lost three in a row and four of their last five matches.
“Saturday is really a fun day,” Granite City senior Skylar Dippel said. “The slump builds character and it’s going to help us improve. It’s going to take us to work together to figure out how to get out of the slump.”
The Warriors dropped to 0-2 in Southwestern Conference play with the loss to Edwardsville. Last year, Granite City was 1-6 in league play after finishing with three consecutive winless seasons.
“I think we have the best conference in the state,” Harrison said. “We have some tough competition. I look forward to seeing Alton again and the Belleville schools. We have a rough ride ahead of us with a lot of tough games.”
The Tigers are looking to win a conference championship outright this fall after sharing the title with Belleville West and O’Fallon with a 6-1 record in 2015.
“The girls are aiming for a conference title again this year,” Parker said. “I know they like to have it by themselves for a while. So that’s one of the goals. Part of that goal is you’ve got to win all of the conference matches to get it done. It’s a good start.”
Edwardsville got off to a blazing start in the first game. The Tigers led 8-1, then boosted that lead to 15-3.
In the second game, Edwardsville stormed to a 7-1 lead and never looked back. The match lasted just 33 minutes.
“We didn’t bring it like we had all season,” Harrison said. “We didn’t execute and do what we were supposed to do. That score is the result of it. I feel like if we have played the game we’ve been playing, it would have been a much different game.”
Edwardsville junior Rachel Verdun turned in a solid all-around effort, finishing with 15 assists, six digs, seven kills and three service aces. Junior Kate Martin had nine kills, junior Megan Woll finished with 11 digs and senior Shelby Saye had six kills and 11 assists for the Tigers.
“In this game, I thought all of our passes and hitting were just clean with not that many errors as we had in the other games,” Meyer said.
Parker said she was happy with Verdun’s effort.
“She was excited tonight because we normally run a 5-1 (offense), so she does all of the setting,” the Edwardsville coach said. “She was excited when we switched over and ran a 6-2 and let her hit for a little while. She’s a really good hitter. I don’t know if anybody realizes it because she’s always setting for us, so it’s nice to show off that aspect of her game. She had a big night.”
The Tigers started their season on Aug. 26 with a win at Springfield Southeast. The next week, they won the Tiger Classic for the first time in nine years. Edwardsville also lost a three-game match to Missouri powerhouse St. Joseph’s Academy, finished with a 3-2 record in the Crossroads Classic in Effingham and picked up a two-game victory over Triad.
With the win over the Warriors, Edwardsville improved to 3-0 on the road.
“It’s a really good team,” Harrison said.