BELLEVILLE — At times this season the O'Fallon Panthers looked unstoppable as they rolled to a school record 27 wins and the Southwestern Conference boy volleyball championship.
On Friday, the Panthers were stopped for good by the one team which they couldn't conquer all season, the Edwardsville Tigers
The duo of Brandon Davis and junior Will Frank had 12 kills apiece and the Tigers' defense never let O'Fallon get on track as Edwardsville posted a 25-18, 26-24 win in the semifinals of the Bolingbrook Sectional.
The win is the 11th in the last 12 outings for Edwardsville (19-11) and its third in four matches this season against O'Fallon (27-6-3).
The match was played at Belleville West High School.
"O'Fallon is a very good team and we knew we had to be ready for a hard-fought match,'' Frank said. "We always get up for them and our scout team does a good job of running the same formations and plays that they run.
"It's just a matter of execution and tonight we played very well.''
The win moves Edwardsville into the sectional title game at Bolingbrook High School on Tuesday, where it will take on Plainfield Central at 7 p.m.
Plainfield Central defeated Plainfield North 25-22, 22-25, 25-18 in the other semifinal on Friday in Bolingbrook.
After winning the first game in convincing fashion, Edwardsville trailed throughout game two.
The Panthers led 24-22, but following an O'Fallon violation, Edwardsville junior Joe Brammeier stepped to the service line facing game point.
A kill by O'Fallon senior John Hartkop sailed inches over the baseline to tie the score and when Frank pounded down his 11th kill of the match, the Tigers had a match point.
Seconds later, a missed kill attempt by the Panthers gave Edwardsville the victory.
"It's just a case of playing smart volleyball and putting things together as a team,'' Edwardsville coach Andy Bersett said. "Also, we played a very difficult schedule this year and it's taken time for us to play like we can.
"When you play a tough schedule and struggle like we did early in the year, it can tear a team apart or you can use it to make you better.
"This team has gotten better as the season has gone on.''
O'Fallon, which got five kills apiece from Nolan Melesky and Hartkop, trailed 15-6 after a six-point service run by Edwardsville junior Jake Vandever in game one.
The Panthers rallied to within five points twice late, but a kill by sophomore Mike Horton gave the Tigers a 25-18 win.
And while O'Fallon led almost the entire second game, coach Katelyn Hagarty's squad couldn't win the big points.
"A lot of it was that we didn't do a very good on serve return tonight," Hagarty said. "We've had a great season and this group has done some amazing things in winning back-to-back conference titles and winning more matches than any team in school history.
"It's just sad that it had to end with a loss."