Edwardsville gets past Mater Dei in battle of volleyball heavyweights

Edwardsville middle blocker Annie Ellis was having trouble finding the range midway through the second game of the Tigers showdown with Mater Dei on Monday. Then the 6-foot-2 senior simply let loose.

Ellis had four kills and a pair of blocks during an eight point service run by Allison Blume as Edwardsville rallied from a large deficit to defeat Mater Dei 25-22, 25-23 before a large turnout at Mater Dei High School.

After dropping the first game, Mater Dei (23-6) seemed destined to send the match between two of the true volleyball heavyweights in the metro-east to a third game when it took a 22-13 lead following a kill by the Knights Kelly Voss.

But then Blume stepped to the service line and didn’t step away until the Knights lead had dwindled to 23-22.

“What happened is that in the second game up to that point, we didn’t pass the ball as well, we didn’t move as well and we stopped winning,’’ Tigers coach Jami Parker said. “Then (Allison) Blume stepped to the line, hit some good serves and our sets and passes became much sharper — and Annie Ellis got on a roll.’’

And it was Rachel Pranger who finally ended the drama with the final two of her 11 kills as Edwardsville had the emotional win over one of the top programs in the state — and on its home floor as well.

“Beating Mater Dei on its home floor is a big win for us,’’ Parker said. “(Coach) Chad Rakers does just a tremendous job an this is a tough place to play. They always have a big crowd and its always noisy. But to our credit, we came back and played well late in game two after not playing so well early.’’

Edwardsville, getting eight kills from Pranger and pair of key late plays from Kate Martin led for most of the first game, but struggled to find the range early in game two as Mater Dei, getting inspired play from Voss and Erica Lampe took a huge lead.

But it didn’t last long enough.

“What can you say? It looked like we had control of the second game and then Edwardsville got on a roll and we just couldn’t stop them,’’ Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers said. “We’ll certainly work on what happened here and learn from it. We’ll come back and have a couple of good days of practice. Who knows? We might see them (Edwardsville) again in the postseason.’’

If they do, the Knights better find a way to slow down Ellis and Pranger.

“They (Mater Dei) beat us in a tournament and we wanted to come out tonight and show them we were a better team,’’ Ellis said. “Early in the second game I think we weren’t really going for our shots. We were tipping instead of going all out. Coach told us to just hit the ball with more authority and that’s what we did.

“During the scoring run, we were moving well, passing and the sets were just great. It was a total team effort.’’

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean