FULTON, Ill. -- Hard hits were all around Thursday between the Erie Cardinals and the Fulton Steamers at Stan Borgman Court.
The front lines for the Cardinals and the Steamers came out hitting hard and didn’t let up the entire match. Erie was able to see more of its hits land than the Steamers, propelling the Cardinals to the Three Rivers Conference win 25-20, 25-18.
“I think we’re getting there,” Erie sophomore Rachel Cobert said. “This was probably our best game of the whole season.”
She said the Cardinals also took a bit of enjoyment of beating the Steamers on a night when they welcomed back players from their 2003 Elite Eight team.
“On Senior Nights and tonight when they honor that state team, it gives you motivation,” Cobert said.
In the first match, both teams wasted no time establishing their outside and middle hitters. Erie’s Peyton Rus (game-high 11 kills) and Cobert (six kills) laid down a couple of kills, while Fulton saw Betsy Leonard (team-high six kills) and, later, Chelsea Lesniewski and Rachael Beiermann (six kills) mix in some decisive kills of their own, breaking up any runs the Cardinals would try to go on.
“We tend to start slow in the first set, but tonight, for a change, we picked up our game,” Erie coach Alicia Murphy said.
But Fulton hung tough, getting kills from Beiermann that tied the game at 7-7 and 8-8.
Beiermann, in the past two games especially, has been showing improved court awareness and court vision.
“I’ve really been focusing more on what’s open and where the block is,” she said. “I’ve really been concentrating on that a lot lately.”
The Steamers and Cardinals went back and forth, point for point through most of the first match before Erie began to pull away at the end for the 25-20 victory. The Steamers found themselves taking advantage of the Erie serve-receive, which was subpar for the night, in both matches.