BELLEVILLE — After a four day Easter holiday break, the Belleville West Maroons returned to the volleyball court Monday on a mission.
The Althoff Crusaders didn't.
Senior setter Trevor Juenger handed out 17 assists while senior outside hitter Cade Dibadj had nine kills and eight digs as the Maroons rolled to a 25-22, 25-15 win over Althoff in a nonconference match.
With bragging rights on the west side of Belleville at stake, the Maroons took the early advantage when Juenger slammed home a kill to clinch a first game win.
The second game was never in doubt. A tip by the 6-foot-3 Juenger put West up 6-3 and Dibadj followed with an 11-point service run to put the game and match away.
The Crusaders' David Edelman finally ended the streak with a kill. But Althoff (3-3) trailed 17-4 and would get no closer then 10 points the rest of the game.
"This is as well as we've played all year," West coach Austin Betz said. "The second game we had a stretch there where we were playing really tough. I was glad to see that because in the first game we had a stretch or two where we gave away two or three points in a row.
"That was what we talked about between games. Even if we got a big lead we needed to be able to keep our focus. We couldn't give away points because that's the way you let teams get back into a match. We game them (Althoff) some points there in the end. But we were never in trouble."
Juenger added five kills to go along with his 17 assists for West (8-7) which also got a big night out of sophomore outside hitter Nick Stevenson as it opened the second of the season with a convincing win.
"I also think that had something to do with how well we played. We wanted this tonight and that showed from the first point to the last," Betz said. "A lot of these players grew up playing with or against each other. I know that half the players on the West roster when to Catholic grade schools so these kids all know each other."
Althoff played well for most of the first game. A four point service run by Erik Krause, which included kills from Hayden Buss and Donovan Gagen, put Althoff up 7-5. But later with West leading 14-12, Stevenson served four straight points as the Maroons opened an 18-12 advantage.
Dibadj led the run with a pair of kills.
Althoff coach Tim Gagen said his team just couldn't sustain any momentum.
"I thought we came out in the first game and played with a lot of emotion and we matched them point for point for most of the first game. A point here or there ... honestly, we played like a team that had been off for four days," Gagen said. "But you've got to give a lot of credit to West. When they have their defense going and their offense is clicking on all cylinders, they are tough to stop.''
Trailing 24-20, Althoff didn't back off. A winner by Edelman and kill by Donovan Gagen cut the lead to 24-22.
But when Juenger calmly slapped a left-handed kill into the open court seconds later, West was up a game and firmly in control.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com