It’s a good time to be playing volleyball for the Belleville West Maroons.
West has opened the season with seven straight wins after pounding Freeburg 25-16, 25-12 on Tuesday to keep the victory parade rolling along.
The 7-0 start includes five straight wins Saturday as the Maroons nailed down their third straight championship at the Quincy Tournament.
“We played great at Quincy and we opened up really well at Triad,” said West coach Lauren DeGirolamo, whose team plays host to top-ranked Mater Dei on Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll just keep going as long as we can.”
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MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The first set was close early before the Maroons rode the powerful hitting of 6-foot-1 senior Kayla Juenger to put the Midgets away. Freeburg (5-4) led early and still was within striking distance trailing 14-12 before service runs by Ali Hanger and Kacie Kinnikin provided extra momentum along with Juenger’s slams.
Juenger had five of her six kills in the first set while senior Sara Caponi and sophomore Kaylee Hanger added five kills apiece. Kinnikin had nine assists.
“I thought we swung it pretty well when we could get the ball in system,” DeGirolamo said. “We had a little difficulty catching thier serves; they served us really tough. But when we could get in system and had everything aligned we were able to power some balls down. That was exciting.”
Juenger has been a dominant hitter for the Maroons, but she said this quick start has been all about the way this team’s cohesive nature.
“We’ve been really ‘on’ and every hitter’s been having good hits, every passer’s been doing good passing and the setting has been good,” Juenger said. “Together we play real well because we all flow together; we’ve known each other for a while and every player just has their own individual thing.”
They’ve been talking a lot about unforced errors at the U.S. Open tennis tournament and it happens in volleyball, too.
The Midgets had enough trouble with the Maroons even before contributing 20 errors that allowed West to win in dominant fashion.
Freeburg was tied 9-9 in the first set and was within 9-7 in the second, but each time failed to generate any type of answer as the Maroons quickly pulled away.
“A lot of unforced errors,” Freeburg coach Brooke Kloess said. “We came in knowing that Belleville West is a good program but I think that gets to our girls and they get in panic mode. We just need to get mentally tougher and they need to understand that just because whoever’s on the other side of the court, we don’t panic.
“We don’t change our game, you have to play composed and under control. I give West credit, they’re a good program, absolutely. But I definitely know we can compete better than we did tonight.”