Civic Memorial senior Saige Gehrs goes up for a kill in Game 2 against Hillsboro on Monday at CM.
Julie Bruns of the Eagles makes a pass on Monday vs. the Hiltoppers.
CM's Kennedy Carnes goes up for a block Monday during regional action at home vs. Hillsboro.
BETHALTO — With their season on the line Monday, the Civic Memorial Eagles took care of business.
CM defeated the Hillsboro Hiltoppers 21-25, 26-24, 25-11 to keep its season alive in the opening match of the Class 3A CM Regional. The fourth-seeded Eagles will now face No. 1 seeded Greenville at 5:30 p.m. tonight. No. 2 Jersey and No. 3 Roxana will square off in the nightcap at 6:30 p.m.
The win improved the Eagles to 7-26 on the season, while Hillsboro saw its season conclude at 5-16.
Answering adversity hasn't been the best characteristic of CM this season, so senior libero Julie Bruns was happy to see the Eagles rise to the occasion Monday. It came with a little bit of help in Game 2 from the Hiltoppers, too.
“We struggled a lot with coming back at the end of our games this season,” Bruns said. “It was even better that we did that tonight. I'm really proud of our team, since we were down we came back and were able to pull it out, because that's something we've really struggled with this season.”
After dropping Game 1, the Eagles played with a much more sense of urgency in Game 2.
CM owned a small 5-4 lead when it started to put things together. An 8-1 run, saw the Eagles construct a comfortable 13-5 lead. Sophomore Baleigh Gehrs highlighted the series with three kills, while freshman Susan Buchanan added two and sophomore Kaitlyn Kappler produced one. Senior Summer Standefer also contributed an ace on the run.
“We made a few changes up at the net and when we have a freshman and four sophomores as our biggest net contributors and (senior) Saige (Gehrs) leading us, there's not a lot of that varsity net experience,” CM head coach Amanda Biggs said. “They're still trying to learn how to read the hitters, how to watch the setter and it will come, but they definitely figured out Hillsboro tonight.”
Saige Gehrs got into the act at the net, too. She added a trio of kills on a 5-0 run in Game 2 by the Eagles, which catapulted them ahead 18-9.
They continued to look in control, leading 24-18, when Hillsboro mounted a 6-0 run to knot it at 24-24. A block by Madison Miller of the Hiltoppers cut it to 24-23 and a hitting error by the Eagles allowed them to draw even.
Hillsboro helped CM out though, following with a service error and a lift ball, allowing the Eagles to squeak out a 26-24 win and keep their season alive.
“They definitely helped us out,” Biggs said. “We made some big mental mistakes and we've got to overcome those. We've got to stay focused and stay in control of our game.”
The win in Game 2 seemed to let the urgency truly set in that the season was on the line. CM responded with a dominant third game, racing out to a 13-3 lead.
Saige Gehrs, Baleigh Gehrs and Kennedy Carnes all contributed kills on the run, while Carnes and Kappler combined for a couple of blocks and Sydney Marshall turned in an ace.
When Saige Gehrs hammered down a kill with authority to close out the game and the match, a weight seemed to be lifted off of CM's shoulders. The Eagles' season had remained alive for at least another night.
“I think it just shows that we are able and it proves not only to ourselves, but to everyone that we are able and we can do it so it will just help us in the future,” Bruns said of mounting the comeback.
Biggs added, “I hate that it's come down to the end of the season where it's do or die, but they did step it up when it mattered and that's all I can ask of them.”
Saige Gehrs led the net attack with eight kills, while Carnes and Kappler each had five and Baleigh Gehrs added four. Kappler also turned in four solo blocks and three assisted blocks, while Carnes had four assisted blocks. Bruns picked up a team-high 18 digs, Marshall had 11 service points and Alaina Trosley contributed a pair of aces. Marshall and Monica Ledesma each dished out 12 assists to pace the offense.