High School Sports

Vandever, Frank help Edwardsville stay undefeated in race for SWC volleyball title

BELLEVILLE After dropping the first game and facing a large deficit early in game two, there was no time to panic for Edwardsville on Thursday in its Southwestern Conference volleyball game against Belleville East.

But it was time for Will Frank to step up. And with the Tigers undefeated SWC record on the line, Frank did.

Frank had five of his game-high 18 kills midway in game two to spark the Tigers offense as Edwardsville rallied for 23-25, 25-16, 25-14 win before a large crowd at Belleville East High School.

Playing one of its best games of the season, East (8-6, 4-3) received stellar play senior Joseph Masterson, junior Ryan McCarthy and sophomore Rico Walker in game one. Walker broke a 23-all tie with a kill and when Masterson followed with a kill, the Lancers had the upper hand in their showdown of two perennial SWC contenders.

The Lancers upset hopes improved even more when McCarthy opened game two with a five-point service run to give his team a 6-0 lead. But a three point service run by Frank which included a kill by Doug Jones and two miscues by the Lancers, closed the Edwardsville deficit to 6-4 and the Tigers were back in the match.

“Lets face it. We have a target on our backs everytime we take the floor. Plus East always plays us tough and tonight they had us on our heals early with their tipping the fast pace in which they were playing,’’ Tigers assistant coach Mike Walsh said. “We just had to make the adjustments and we started looking to Will (Frank) a little more.

“There is no doubt that he (Frank) is our go-to guy. I wouldn’t say he took the match over because we had other players step up and play well. But No. 26 made a difference.’’

Walsh, who with head coach Andy Bersett away at a family function on Thursday guided the Tigers, then watched as Edwardsville (16-5, 8-0) outscored East 46-24, the rest of the night as it kept its dream of an undefeated league record alive.

While East coach Dan Kloess was disappointed wth the final outcome, he had to be pleased with the Lancers early play and its effort. Masterson led a balanced attack with nine kills and Walker added seven. But when Frank and the Tigers turned up the pressure early in game two, East couldn’t respond.

“I thought we maybe caught them a little off guard with our tipping in the first game. We’ve been playing some pretty good volleyball recently and we have been working on our tipping,’’ Kloess said. “I thought we had the mommentum and then we started making a few unforced errors.

“Plus Edwardsville has a lot of weapons with him (Frank) leading the way. He’s a very good player.’’

East still led 10-6 following a kill by Masterson before Frank asserted himself once again. With his team trailing 12-10, Frank had three kills amongst a missed block by East which put Edwardsville up 14-12.

The Lancers would not lead the rest of the night. A four point service run by Ryan Bode expanded the lead 22-14 before kills by Joe Brammeier and Frank tied the match at a game apiece.

With senior setter Jake Vendever dishing out 16 of his 36 assists, Edwardsville put the Lancers away midway in game three. Vandever also had a seven point service run as Edwardsville took a 15-6 lead.

Contact reporter Dean Criddle at dcriddle@bnd.com or 618-239-2661.