Just when it seemed like Belleville East might be thinking about stretching its city rivalry volleyball match with Belleville West to three games Tuesday, West junior Abby Hobbs sent the Lancers back home.
Hobbs engineered an 11-point service run that included three aces to close out a 25-17, 25-10 victory over the Lancers on “Volley For a Cure” Night to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
She finished the night with 14 service points as the Maroons (19-7) improved to 4-0 in the Southwestern Conference.
“An aggressive serve is always a really good part of the game,” said Hobbs, who had Lancer players diving all over the court trying to deal with her difficult deliveries. “It got us pumped up and in a really good momentum.”
West trailed the second set 9-8 and was leading 14-10 when Hobbs and her teammates went to work. Along with her tough serves, West also got three straight kills from Chelsea Vogel to shut down the Lancers (7-14, 3-3).
“Abby’s a really good server, that’s why we’re making her our first server now,” West coach Lauren DeGirolamo said. “When she’s serving tough, her balls are really hard to pass. She hit a rhythm there at the end of the game.”
West junior Kaylee Hanger was also in a solid rhythm all night at the net, pounding down a team-leading 11 kills — including six in the first set — while Nikki Gaskill added five more. Katherine Koch had 21 assists for the Maroons.
“Kaylee had a good night, she was able to kind of see where their defense was and hit the open spots,” said DeGirolamo, whose stylish pink and black outfit matched the special cancer awareness uniforms worn by each team Tuesday.
Money raised from the sale of special t-shirts at each school, as well as from a 50-50 drawing at the match, was donated to cancer research. Many of the players also had pink breast cancer awareness ribbons painted on their cheeks.
“It’s one of my favorite nights,” DeGirolamo said. “Breast cancer affects so many people and if we can do just a tiny bit to help that out by raising money and raising awareness .... our fans and parents all support us.
“It’s one of my favorite nights not only because it’s East vs. West, but we’re playing volleyball for a cause; playing for something more than just ourselves.”
Janae Mosby topped Belleville East with five kills and Derika Moore had four, but there weren’t a lot of highlights by the Lancers on a tough night.
There was a large crowd on hand and loud, vocal student sections from both schools tried to keep the teams pumped up.
“I think it was just their mental prep going into it,” East coach Stefanie Gaubatz said of her squad. “We didn’t play with heart, we didn’t play with energy, we didn’t play with emotion, we didn’t take momentum when we had chances to take the momentum.
“It was just disappointment all the way around. I don’t know how you don’t get up for a match like that.”
Both sets were close for a time as West led 10-8 in the first before pulling away and East led briefly early in the second set.
“I have no explanation for it,” Gaubatz said. “I really don’t know. We stopped talking, we stopped communicating, we stopped playing our game. We just kind of let them take over and when you do that, you’re just going to make error after error. That’s what we did.”