The Edwardsville tandem of Nick Allen and Jack Grimm combined for 36 kills Thursday as the Tigers outlasted O’Fallon 25-22, 23-25, 25-22 in a Southwestern Conference boys volleyball match.
The Tigers (6-2) and Panthers (1-1) battled for more than 90 minutes on the Panther Dome court in a match in doubt until the end. It wasn’t until O’Fallon senior and Ohio State University recruit Luke Meidel missed on a kill and the Panthers were called for a net violation on the final two points that the Tigers clinched the early-season win on the road.
“The caliber of volleyball by both teams was very good tonight. Boys volleyball in the SWC is stronger each year. With O’Fallon and us along with Belleville West and Belleville East, both of which have strong programs, it’s not hard to see why teams from the area are becoming more competitive with the teams from the Chicago area,” Edwardsville coach Andy Bersett said.
“I’m pleased at how we played tonight, and I thought it was a total team effort. But that (O’Fallon) is a great program over there. They play so hard, and their defense was just tremendous tonight.”
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A right-side hitter, Allen led Edwardsville with a match-high 19 kills. Grimm added 17 kills for the Tigers, who placed second in the Joliet West Tournament on Saturday, winning four of five matches.
O’Fallon, which defeated Granite City in its season opener, received 17 kills from Meidel and 27 assists from junior setter Justin Hovick.
In game one, Allen broke a 22-all tie with a kill up the right sideline, and Grimm followed with a pair of service winners up the middle of the court to give Edwardsville the win.
In game two, O’Fallon senior Gabe Norsigian and junior Bryce Backus both had four-point service runs as O’Fallon broke a 12-all tie to take a 19-12 lead. Edwardsville rallied to within a point late, but Meidel ended the drama with a kill to even the match.
“I thought we played very well. I know this was only our second match, but I was impressed at how we battled and stayed in there,” O’Fallon coach Katelyn Hagarty said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that Luke (Meidel) is our go-to player on key points, but we have other played who can step up. I think we showed that tonight.”
The third game was close throughout with neither the Tigers nor the Panthers leading by more than four points.
After Backus and Grimm exchanged points and with the score tied at 22, Grimm, an outside hitter, swatted down a kill to give Edwardsville the lead for good. Allen then served the final two points.
Edwardsville junior setter Lucas Verdun had 36 assists.