BELLEVILLE — Belleville East volleyball coach Stefanie Gaubatz talks all the time about how important getting off to a quick start is to the success of the Lancers.
But having high-flying 6-foot-4 outside hitter Josiah Bergt at the top of his game also helps.
With city bragging rights at stake, Bergt led a balanced Lancers attack with 11 kills while senior setter John Mathews dished out 19 assists on Thursday, as East remained undefeated with a 25-17, 27-25 victory over Belleville West.
Getting a pair of five-point service runs from seniors Cole Cruikshank and Austin Cox, the Lancers erased an early 3-0 deficit to roll past the Maroons in game one.
"We did what we try to every match, which is get off to a quick start and then use that momentum the rest of the way. I thought that we were aggressive and played very well,'' Gaubatz said. "Josiah had a great night. He's a player with great-leaping ability. But we've got a few guys like that.
Deion Buckels and Austin Cox combined for nine more kills for East, which survived the power attack of Maroons 6-foot outside hitter Luke Glaeser to nip West in game two to sweep the match.
The Maroons led 25-24 in game two before a mishit, a serve into the net and a missed kill by senior Cade DiBadj gave the Lancers (4-0) the win.
"I thought we were a little timid with our hitting attack in the first game and we had some uncharacteristic errors. Between games that was the topic, and I thought we were a little better in game two,'' West coach Austin Betz said. "East is a tough team to play against, because with Bergt, Buckels and Cox in front they're tough to defend and even more difficult to go over the top on.''
With senior Trevor Juenger serving three straight points, West had its biggest lead of the night at 4-1 in game one. But first Cruikshank and then Cox served five straight points.
One of Buckels four kills put East up 14-6 and West would get no closer than seven the rest of the game.
Bergt had five of his 11 kills to pace the Lancers in the first game, as he punished the Maroons' front row with winners off passes from Mathews.
"John (Mathews) does a great job of distributing the ball to the player with the hot hand,'' Gaubatz said. "West is a good team and they will continue to get better as the season goes on. I think most teams usually do.''
The second game was close all the way.
With freshman Logan Williams serving, East took a 15-12 lead on a tip by Mathews and a combined block by Cox and Bergt.
But the Maroons responded by scoring four of the next five points to retake the lead.
Juenger had a tip winner and Glaeser added a pair of kills to key the Maroons' comeback.
"(Luke) Glaeser isn't the biggest player out here, but I can't imagine anybody hitting the ball harder. He just really goes after shots,'' Betz said. "I was pleased at how we came back in the second game. We just had a couple of crucial hitting errors at the wrong time which were the difference.''