O’FALLON, Ill. — After each opposing starter is announced before an O’Fallon home girls volleyball match, the student section playfully asks, “Who’s that?”
After Tuesday, the Panthers faithful certainly know who Edwardsville senior Gabby Saye is.
Saye, the Tigers 6-foot-2 right-side hitter, led a dominating performance for Edwardsville, No. 4 in the STLhighschoolsports large school rankings.
Saye had 10 kills and a pair of blocks as the Tigers never trailed in their season opener, sweeping Southwestern Conference rival O’Fallon 25-13, 25-20.
“We definitely were ready for the competition,” Saye said. “Our defense was super strong. I mean we were picking up balls left and right, we were diving for balls, we were putting our all into every single ball.”
Emma Garner joined in with seven kills and an ace for Edwardsville, and Ava Waltenberger added five kills. Lexie Griffin and Maddie Vieth combined for 28 assists.
Libero Kaitlyn Conway spearheaded a spirited effort on the Tigers’ back row.
“We've really been hustling in practice, making sure every ball is picked up, so I think that really just carried over to our first game,” Conway said.
Rylie Vincent led O’Fallon (1-1, 0-1) with eight kills. Annalie McWhorter added five kills and Alyssa Frederking had 19 assists.
Edwardsville controlled the match from the service line. Griffin, Conway and Hannah Matarelli each had an ace and the Tigers’ aggressive serves kept the Panthers off balance.
“Our servers were able to knock O'Fallon out of system,” Edwardsville coach Heather Ohlau said. “They've got a phenomenal middle and anytime that you can knock a team from their big go-to hitter, I count that as a positive.”
Edwardsville won its ninth consecutive match dating to the spring season played because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tigers also won their sixth consecutive match against O'Fallon and 12th in the last 13 meetings between the conference powers.
“It's definitely a really good start to our season,” Conway said. “It's going to give us a lot of confidence, but it also brings a lot of teams gunning for us. They know that we are going to be the team beat this year, so we just have to make sure that we're staying consistent at practice and not letting up anything on our end.”