QUINCY -- Hannah Beeler was confident the Quincy High School volleyball team could win, even after dropping the first set to Pekin.
Beating the same Dragons team about five hours earlier gave her that assurance.
"If we could beat them once, we could beat them again," said Beeler, a senior outside hitter for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils rallied to take the next two sets for a 20-25, 25-20, 25-18 victory on Saturday at the QHS gym to win their first QHS Early Bird Tournament championship since 2012.
"This is just a big tournament for us because it's our home tournament, and we want to look good and make it count," junior outside hitter Emma Sparrow said. "This makes a statement for the rest of our season."
The title drought wasn't lost on the Blue Devils.
"This is huge," said Beeler, the tournament's Most Valuable Player. "It's been so long. We have newcomers on this team who haven't played varsity before, and they stepped up."
In pool play, Quincy beat East St. Louis 25-14, 27-25 but lost to Fort Madison, Iowa, 25-17, 24-26, 12-15 in the second match before responding with a 25-13, 21-25, 15-11 victory over Pekin. A point differential tiebreaker allowed Quincy and Pekin to advance to the championship bracket.
Quincy (6-3) raced to a 6-1 lead to open the second set, but Pekin rallied to tie it at 10. A kill by senior Mackenzie Klingele gave the Blue Devils the lead and kickstarted a 6-0 run for the Blue Devils. Pekin got within 16-14, but Quincy scored eight of the next 11 points to pull away.
Sparrow helped seal the victory with her serving in the decisive set.
Quincy led 9-6 after a Pekin error. The Blue Devils scored another point on a Dragons' attacking error, and Sparrow followed with two straight aces to push the lead to 12-6. After a Pekin timeout, Sparrow added another ace. Pekin never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
"The whole game changed after that," Sparrow said. "Everyone came together, and we fought for it. We knew we had the lead, and we weren't going to give it up."
Quincy also got revenge on the way to the Early Bird title by beating Belleville West 25-9, 28-26 in the semifinal match. The Maroons had won the last five Early Bird titles, beating the Blue Devils in bracket play in all five of those tournaments.
"That made it sweeter," Beeler said.
Beeler finished the tournament with 38 kills, including 10 in the championship match. Kayla Hoener also had 10 kills in the title match, while Sparrow had six kills and four blocks. Eanna DeGuzman and Hoener also were named to the all-tournament team.