With 25 wins against just two loses, the Belleville West Maroons have sewn up a high seed their own regional volleyball tournament, which begins Oct. 26.
At 8-14, the Lancers hope to peak in time to compete in the rugged regional field.
West defeated East 25-22, 25-17 in the intra-city rivalry match Wednesday, but not before the Lancers gave the Maroons some tense moments.
The Lancers battled back twice from six-point deficits in the first set to eventually tie it at 20-points each. Five players went to the service line before the Maroons could close out the set and clinch the second, decisive game.
“They came out and played some really good volleyball. It was kind of nerve wracking,” said West coach Lauren DeGirolamo. “They put up some good blocks and showed off some power hitters. Whenever you have East versus West, it’s an exciting match no matter what.”
The Lancers entered the match fresh off a 4-1 showing and third-place finish at the Quincy Invitational Saturday. Counting its tight match against the Maroons, East coach Stefanie Gaubatz says she hopes her team will continue its positive competitive trend through its final three regular season matches.
“We have definitely moved forward,” she said. “We had a really good weekend, but right now it’s all about small goals and small successes. Hopefully we’re peaking at the right moment.”
For the Maroons, whose only losses of the season came to O’Fallon, ranked No.1 on the BND coaches poll, and St. Louis Ursuline Academy at the East Tournament Oct. 3.
They head to a tournament in Chicago this weekend to get a glimpse of what could be ahead in the post-season.
“It’s always good to play teams that are better because they expose weaknesses and let you know what you need to work on,” DeGirolamo said. “Maybe we’ll face somebody we’ll see down the road, but we’ll have to get through the tough teams in our own regional before that can happen. We’ve played really well all season long and the girls just have to maintain it.”
The longest rally of either set Wednesday was six, which was served by Kaylee Hanger to give West a 6-1 lead in the first set. East chipped away at the lead until a kill by Erin Pruett and a West service error tied things up at 20.
Hanger had two kills and served an ace to put the set away.
East kept things close in the second match. Shelby Ridgeway landed an attack to tie the score 10-10. But West rallied ahead 20-13 and closed on kills by Kayla Juenger, Nikki Gaskill, Nicole Braner and Hanger.
For West, Juenger led with nine kills; Hanger had eight to go with nine digs; Sara Caponi and Braner each had five kills; and Samantha Schell had 17 assists.
For East, Ridgeway had six kills; Holly Badgley had five kills to go with a team-high nine digs; Janae Mosby had 17 assists to go with two kills; and Aaliyah Gladney had seven digs.