The Freeburg Midgets escaped a weekend at Edwardsville’s Tiger Classic with more than three wins and a couple of losses.
They also picked up the kind of confidence that comes only from slugging it out above your own weight class.
Freeburg scored a knockout back at home Tuesday with a three-set masterpiece against Belleville West 22-25, 25-15, 25-21.
“We wanted to start the season out with tougher competition and I think playing at Edwardsville did just that,” said Freeburg coach Brooke Kloess. “But I told the girls before the match if you want to be recognized you have to start beating the bigger schools. Belleville West is a big school that has a lot of tradition, so getting that ‘W’ was huge for the girls.”
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I told the girls before the match if you want to be recognized you have to start beating the bigger schools.Belleville West is a big school that has a lot of tradition, so getting that ‘W’ was huge for the girls.
Brooke Kloess, Freeburg head volleyball coach
The 4-3 Maroons placed second at the Quincy Tournament over the weekend — suffering both its losses to the same Pekin Dragons — but were not as sharp in Freeburg as third-year head coach Lauren DeGirolamo says they will be.
West put 12 blocks on the hard-swining Midgets — Nikkie Gaskill had a hand in six of them — but also had six blocking errors when their hitters either wandered across the center line or into the net.
“At times were were really strong and other times we just flailed around into the net and gave away some easy points,” DeGirolamo said. “It’s early in the season, though, and we want to be at our best as we head into the post-season. So there’s time to correct some of the things we saw.”
Freeburg, 7-2, opens Cahokia Conference play Thursday against Wesclin. West will face Mater Dei, also Thursday.
The Maroons won a back-and-forth first set that saw six lead changes, 13 ties, and no service rally any longer than three points.
The second set started with the same tempo and was tied at 12 when Maddie Hurd served seven straight points to put the Midgets in command and tie the match at one set apiece.
Volleyball is a huge momentum game. Unfortunately, we didn't have an answer to their rallies.
Lauren DeGirolamo, Belleville West head volleyball coach
West stormed seized command in the third set, but another seven-point rally by Freeburg — this time with Monica Money at the line — gave Freeburg the match’s last lead change.
“Volleyball is a huge momentum game,” DeGirolamo said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have an answer to their rallies. The end of a game always has more pressure and the only way to improve how you react to it is to play through those situations. We couldn’t close.”
Kloess said the difference in the match was her team’s refusal to relinquish momentum to the Maroons.
“It never mattered to the girls what the scoreboard said, they’re focus and intensity was pretty consistent throughout,” she said. “They didn’t have that mental let down and that was absolutely the difference.”
Hurd had a big game with 16 kills and 14 digs. Hannah Harbaugh and Miranda Schulte each had seven kills and Money had 10 digs. Chasity Hill was Freeburg’s top back court performer with 17 digs.
“Maddie Hurd doesn’t usually play defense, but she played with such confidence tonight we left her in,” Kloess said.
For the Maroons, Kaylee Hanger had 12 kills and Gaskill had eight. Setter Katherine Koch had 24 assists and Kacie Kinnikin had 18 digs.