BELLEVILLE — The Southwestern Illinois College volleyball team continues to prove a point and also win a few matches along the way.
A team with just one player standing 5-feet-10-inches or taller, the Blue Storm got a match-high 15 kills from freshman outside hitter Trenice Greer and 33 assists from Erin Rankin on Wednesday as it defeated Kaskaskia College 25-17, 25-15, 22-25, 26-24 in a NJCAA Region 24 women's volleyball match.
And in handing Kaskaskia (8-2) just its second loss of the season, the Blue Storm used its quickness and tenacity to post its biggest win of the season.
"I told the girls after the match that this was the best we've played all year, because every one of them came out and played their roles very well," Blue Storm coach Warren Thomas said. "Erin (Rankin) was all over the floor tonight, and we played the way we need to play to win.
"We're not very tall, but we're quick and we used those quick hits to help us win the match. Kaskaskia is one of the top teams in the region. We played very tonight."
SWIC (7-3) used the serving of Rankin to jump out to quick leads in each of the first two games.
The former Hartsburg standout gave SWIC a 4-0 lead in the opener, then opened game two with a 10-0 service run.
With players such as Greer, Brooke Pruett, Katie Southard and Holly Richter blocking and hitting well, the Blue Storm opened up a quick two game lead in the best-of-5 match.
"I thought we played very hard and as well as we have all year in the first two games," Thomas said. "The third game, I thought fatigue started to set in a little bit.
"I'm just glad we were able to recover well enough and win the match in four (games)."
Getting a three-point service run from Bethany Racic and a four-point run from Southard, SWIC jumped out to a 13-8 lead in game three before Kaskaskia responded.
A four-point service run by Perry Manley, followed by three straight hitting errors by SWIC on the serve of Bree Whittington, gave Kaskaskia a 16-14 lead.
The lead expanded to 21-16 later on blocks by Manley and a Kylie Lowny.
SWIC bounced back to within 23-22, but Lowny served two winners for the game as Kaskaskia got back into the match.
Building on its momentum, the Angels appeared to be on the verge of forcing a fifth game as they jumped out to a lead of 10-6, following an ace by Alicia Hallemann and two hitting errors by SWIC.
But thanks to Greer, SWIC got back in the game. An athletic 5-8 outside hitter from Sikeston, Mo., Greer first served three straight points, then followed with a combined block and a kill to tie the game at 12.
Neither team would lead by more than two points the rest of the match.
SWIC had a 24-23 lead, but Southard hit her serve into the net to give Kaskaskia one last chance. But following a hitting violation, the Blue Storm won the final two points to clinch the match.