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Eagle Kaitlyn Kappler looks to push the ball over the net Thursday at Civic Memorial vs. Mascoutah.
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CM's McKenna Geist prepares to serve Thursday at home.
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CM's Kennedy Carnes looks to tip the ball over the net against the Indians on Thursday.
BETHALTO — Momentum can be a killer in volleyball and the Civic Memorial Eagles fell victim to that Thursday in Bethalto.
The Mascoutah Indians visited Bethalto for a Mississippi Valley Conference match with the Eagles and left with a 25-17, 25-11 victory.
The loss dropped CM to 4-11 overall and 0-3 in the MVC. The Indians upped their record to 14-3 and 4-0 with the triumph.
It was runs by Mascoutah that clipped the Eagles' wings. Trailing 13-12 in Game 1, CM saw the Indians reel off a 10-1 spurt to help put it away. In Game 2 it was 10-7 in favor of Mascoutah when the Eagles allowed a 15-4 run by the Indians to close out the game and the match.
A youthful lineup that sees five sophomores and a freshman rotate in has CM head coach Amanda Biggs trying to keep her team confident. Those sudden shifts of momentum have been the Achilles' heel for the Eagles in many matches so far in '14.
“I think that is our biggest weakness, but we've got to figure out how to pull ourselves out of that,” Biggs said. “That is definitely something we're struggling with and continuing to work on as far as having the confidence that we can own a point, we can own the court. It is a point by point game. You don't get two points for doing something great, you don't get three points for a great block, you have to earn your points defensively and offensively.”
Mascoutah head coach Todd Gober believes Biggs has the Eagles trending in the right direction. CM played decent defense against a strong-hitting Indians' team on Thursday and Gober admitted that's the foundation of a good volleyball squad.
“They blocked well in the first game and they were digging a lot of balls, keeping it alive and then we would make a mistake,” Gober said. “That's good volleyball on their part. I don't think they matched up with us as far as hitting so they just had to try to play defensive volleyball and I thought they did a good job. It was pretty close for the majority of the first set in particular. That's how you beat other teams, when you make them keep attacking and they make mistakes, so I give them a lot of credit.
“I think (Biggs) is doing a great job starting with defense first and I think that's how you stay in ball games against teams that have a little more firepower. You get your defense established and then you can start to develop a counter attack, so I think she's doing a great job. The program is on the right path.”
CM held its own at the beginning of Game 1, taking a 1-0 lead before falling behind 3-1 after a couple of Mascoutah kills. The Eagles tied it at 4-4 on a block by Susan Buchanan and Baleigh Gehrs. Gehrs and Buchanan put up another block to cut it to 7-5 and a service error by the Indians let CM cut it to 11-8.
A kill by senior Saige Gehrs cut it to 12-11, but a CM service error gave it back to Mascoutah. The Eagles got it back to 13-12 on an error by the Indians, but then committed an unforced error of their own and it unraveled from there.
Mascoutah got it to 18-12, highlighted by an ace from Liza Gober and a kill by Lacey Albers. The Indians then extended it to 24-13 behind kills from Albers, Megan Lindsay and Tieghan Morio.
CM rallied with three straight points, including a kill by Baleigh Gehrs, but ultimately lost the game on a kill by Gober.
On paper, Game 2 looked to be all Mascoutah, falling behind 1-0 but never trailing again, but the Eagles extended plays with hustle defense, making the Indians work for points.
“We're breaking it down to the fundamentals and making sure that fundamentally we are as consistent as can be,” Biggs said. “That's making sure our serve receive is on, our digs, our hustle play is good, constantly going for balls. Whether or not we can make a play after, it doesn't matter. I want to make sure they get a touch.”
A kill by Kennedy Carnes had the Eagles within 10-7, but again...Mascoutah grabbed the reins and cruised to victory.
The Indians used a balanced hitting attack. Five players accumulated kills in Game 2 for Mascoutah, to accompany some blocks at the net and a couple aces from Maddie Nekola.
Statistically, CM struggled at the net, only totaling seven kills as a team in the match.
Buchanan and Kaitlyn Kappler had two kills apiece for the Eagles, while Buchanan and Baleigh Gehrs combined for three assisted blocks in the match.
Alaina Trosley gathered a team-high seven digs, while Julie Bruns chipped in with five and Summer Standefer and Monica Ledesma each had four.
For the Indians, Albers and Lindsay both had a team-high six kills, while Gober added five kills, Morio had four and Amanda Jung had three kills to round out the balanced attack.
Biggs said it's just about gaining self confidence for the Eagles and she believes they will get there.
“We've kind of been at the bottom, so we're fighting for everything we do,” Biggs said. “We know we have to work hard to earn our points and we know they're not just given to us for our effort.
“I like to look at it like we're going to go into every single match ready to dominate our side of the court, regardless if we're playing someone in our conference or someone from another conference, it doesn't matter. We're going to show up and play our game. That's what we have to do.”
The Eagles are back in MVC action at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Jersey.
Follow Bill Roseberry on Twitter @broseberry51.