BELLEVILLE The Belleville West Maroons received a combined 26 kills from Nick Stevenson and Justin Buettner but it was Nick Givens who provided a much-needed spark on Tuesday against Belleville East in a Southwestern Conference volleyball match.
A sturdy 6-foot-3 force on the front row, Givens had a pair of kills as West rallied from a large second game deficit before going on for a 16-25, 25-22, 25-23 win before a large turnout at Belleville West High School.
Looking to gain a measure of revenge after losing the Belleville city title to the Maroons two weeks ago, the Lancers played near flawless volleyball in game one. Getting three point service runs from Logan Williams, Braden Shelley snd Rico Walker, East jumped out to a quick 15-6 lead in the opening game then coasted the rest of the way.
A combination block by Connor Martin and Joseph Masterson clinched the 25-16 first game win. And when East led 15-8 in game two following a three-point serve run from Martin which included an ace and a block by Andrew O’Bryan, East (9-11) was on the verge of a straight set win.
But West (14-12) came back. Six straight points from Tim Neff which included kills from Nick Stevenson and Givens got West back in the game as it cut is deficit to 15-13.
“He (Givens) has really played well recently. There was a match last week where I think he had 10 kills,’’ West coach Austin Betz said. “He cane off the bench there in the second played and gave us a little energy when we needed it off the bench. I think it shows what kind of confidence wwe ave in Nick (Givens) was evident there late in the third game when the set went to him and he responded with a kill. He has really stepped up his game.’’
A second kill by Givens and a clean ace by Neff tied the game at 15 before a missed kill gave East a 16 15 lead. The lead exchanged four times before a kill by Tim Neff followed by a block by Givens and Stevenson gave West a 25-22 victory as it forced a third and decisive third game.
Betz, a Belleville West graduate, was coaching his first match of the season after undergoing several weeks chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer.
“I feel good. It’s great to be back with the team,’’ Betz said. “The difference in game one and game two tonight was out passing. I thought we came out and were very sloppy early and (they) Belleville East played very well.
“I thought in game two we cut down with our mistakes and we passed the ball much better.’’
In sharp contrast to the first two games, the decisve third game was close all the way with neither team leading by more then four points. East led 9-5 following kill by Shelley, but a pair of kills and a tip by Justin Buettner tied the game at 9.
East proved to be its own worst enemy in the final two games. The Lancers were guilty of 12 service errors, nine of which happened during the final two games.
“I thought we played very well early,’’ Lancers coach Dan Kloess said. “But we just had way too many serving errors. You can’t give away free points to a good team and while (West) played well, we gave them to many points with bad serving.’’
Continnuing to get solid play from Stevenson, Buettner and Givens, West built a 23-20 lead. East, getting a killo from Masterson, scored the next three points to tie the game at 23 before Givens put West up to stay at 24-23 with a kill.
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