Getting its first look at the jump serve of Edwardsville senior Will Frank, the Belleville East Lancers couldn’t get jump-started on Tuesday as they fell to the Tigers in a Southwestern Conference matchup.
A 6-foot-7 outside hitter, Frank had service points — including five aces — while adding nine kills as Edwardsville drew first blood in the battle of perennial southern Illinois high school boys volleyball powers with a convincing 25-11, 25-12 victory.
Coming off a tough weekend where it lost three matches in suburban Chicago, the Tigers (4-3) used a pair of aces by Frank and a five-point service streak by senior outside hitter Joe Brammeier to break open game one. When Frank started game two with a five-point service run of his own, the Tigers were never threatened the rest of the way as their talented and deep group of hitters had their way against an overmatched Lancers defense.
“When we pass the ball well and our setters are able to get the ball to our hitters in the front row, we have a pretty strong attack because we’ve got several players who can put the ball away. I thought we did a good job of that tonight,” Tigers coach Andy Bersett said. “We also served well tonight both the Will and the jump serve and with Ryan Bode and the floater.”
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Bode complimented the jump serve of Frank with a soft, floating-type serve that provided a nice contrast to stymie Belleville East. Bode finished with nine service points.
Trailing 14-6 in game one after Brammeier’s five-point service streak, the Lancers (2-1) didn’t quit. Kills by sophomore Rico Walker and senior Josepy Masterson cut the Tigers’ lead to 15-8 and when Walker scored on a second kill in three points, East had pulled within 15-9.
But trailing 19-11, the Lancers made four hitting errors in a six-point service run by Bode. A net violation by the Lancers on game point gave the Tigers the edge in the early season showdown.
Belleville East coach Dan Kloess said the overall play of the Tigers and especially Frank’s, was impressive.
“They’re a very good team with a lot of experience and players who have played a lot of volleyball,” Kloess said. “I didn’t think we played bad. We just made a few too many errors and against a team like Edwardsville, you can’t make those errors.
“His (Frank’s) jump serve gave us some trouble, I think mostly because some of our players had not seen anything like it before. Hopefully, next time we’ll be more prepared.”
Like they did in the first game, the Lancers fought back from an early deficit to make things interesting — at least for a while — in game two.
Trailing 5-1, East got two kills from Walker, a tip from Connor Martin and a block from Masterson along with a hitting error from the Tigers as it cut the Edwardsville lead to 7-6.
But following an exchange of points, the Tigers started to pull away for good. With Bode serving, kills by Jack Grimm and Mike Horton along with an error by the Lancers moved the lead to 11-7
East would get no closer the rest of the way, with Edwardsville finally clinching the match on a kill by senior middle blocker Doug Jones.
“This is a big win for us. They (East) have had our number, for, I don’t know, how many years. But I know they’ve played well against us for a few years now,” Bersett said. “They’re a good team and I’m sure they’ll be even better the next time we play them. We just need to keep working hard and improving.”