BELLEVILLE — The Belleville East Lancers had what coach Stefanie Gaubatz called "a not very good warm-up and we were dead" prior to their big Southwestern Conference showdown on Tuesday against Edwardsville.
But Junior Joshua Muckensturm and senior Josiah Bergt helped bring East back to life.
The 6-foot-3 Bergt led a balanced attack with seven kills and Muckensturm erased a huge deficit in the first game with a nine-point service run as the Lancers rallied for a 25-22, 25-15 win over the Tigers.
Taking advantage of the lifeless Lancers, Edwardsville (3-4) led 13-9 midway through the first game and when junior outside hitter Will Frank keyed a four-point service run with three clean winners, the Tigers advantage was 17-9.
With East trailing 17-10, Muckensturm stepped to the line. He wouldn't leave it until the Lancers had a 19-17 advantage.
"We had a very quiet warmup and we were dead. I'm not really sure why you are dead against Edwardsville, a huge Southwestern Conference opponent," Gaubatz said. "But we took a couple of time outs, made some adjustments and started blocking.
"Getting a couple of blocks really turned us around. We started attacking a little bit better, started playing defense a little bit better and just all around, that was turning point of the match for us."
Kills by Bergt and senior Austin Cox kept the Lancers in front and when the Tigers' Adam McLean missed a kill, the undefeated Lancers (2-0) had the first game win and were on their way to a second victory in as many nights.
It was more of the same in the second game for Belleville East. Tied at 11, the Lancers scored 14 of the final 18 points against the Tigers to complete a sweep of the best-of-3 match.
"When we are on our heels is when we struggle," Gaubatz said. "When we are playing our game and we're playing fast volleyball. That's kind of what happened during those big scoring runs. We were passing well, receiving well and blocking. We got into a flow.''
While Gaubatz and the Lancers were enjoying their near flawless play, Tigers coach Andy Bersett was wondering what went wrong.
In addition to Frank, the Tigers also got contributions from Joe Brammeier and Ryan Bode as they took leads of nine points in the first game and four points in the second game.
"In the first game, we had the big lead and we just got stuck in our rotation and they (East) made plays. Several of them in a row. That's a good team over there,'' Bersett said. "They've got good players and they just outplayed us. They were the better team tonight.''
Showing no signs of letting down in game two, Edwardsville again looked sharp early. A block by senior James Sauermann put Edwardsville ahead 10-6. But with the score tied at 11, the Lancers put the match away.
And it started with the point of the year. In a rally which lasted more than two minutes and included several acrobatic digs, which brought the sparse turnout at Belleville East to its collective feet, it was the Lancers finally won the point for a 12-11 lead.
When Edwardsville made four hitting errors in the next four plays, East had the lead for good.
A block by Bergt, a kill from John Mathew and a tip from Deion Buckels gave East a six-point lead and the Lancers never looked back.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com