BELLEVILLE — The Althoff Crusaders pulled off the first major upset of the season last week when they rallied to defeat perennial state power Edwardsville.
On Monday, Belleville East seniors Josiah Bergt and Austin Cox made it sure history didn't repeat.
The Lancers top duo, Bergt and Cox combined for 21 kills and senior setter John Mathews dished out 19 assists as East opened its season with a 25-13, 25-22 win over Althoff in a nonconference volleyball match.
With Cox putting away five of his nine kills and freshman Logan Williams serving the final nine points, East (1-0) romped to the win in the first game.
But Althoff (1-1) put up more of a fight in game two. With Donovan Gagen giving the Crusaders an early 3-1 lead and Hayden Buss increasing the lead to 10-5 with a four-point service run, Althoff looked like it would force a decisive third game before a few hitting errors and the strength and power of the Lancers took over.
"I'm pleased at how we played. I liked how we went after the ball. We were very aggressive with our attack,'' Gaubatz said. "We've got good size on our front line and I'm hoping that will be an advantage for us.
"It was a good effort. Our passers moved the ball well and John (Mathews) did a nice job of distributing the ball to the right players.''
Led by Bergt (12 kills) and Cox (9 kills), the Lancers rallied to take a 23-22 lead on a Crusaders net violation Cox and Mathews then combined for a block to push the Lancers to match point before Williams served a clean ace to clinch the Lancers win.
"Being a freshman put in that kind of situation I was concerned about how he (Williams) would handle it But Logan did a good job," Gaubatz said. "Defensively we've still got some work to do but tonight when I called time-outs to make adjustments, we made the changes and moved on. We've still got some work to do and we will improve."
Althoff already has improved. Coming off the thrilling win to start their season, the Crusaders weren't as sharp in the early going against East.
Trailing 16-13 in game one, Althoff made five errors while Bergt scored on a pair of kills and a tip to ignite the Lancers nine point run and early advantage.
Game two proved to be a different story.
"The one thing about this group is that it plays hard until the end. We struggled in the last part of the first game but we were able to bounce back and play well in the second game. We just had a couple of critical errors and East, with its size and strength, is hard to handle,'' Althoff coach Tim Gagen said. "They (East) have a lot of power up front.
"But our kids battled and we had a chance there in the end. But I was pleased with our effort.''
East got an ace from Mathews and a pair hitting errors by Althoff midway in the second game as it closed to within 14-12. Neither team would lead by more then three points the rest of the night.