Front, from left, Maggie Aery, Madison Murray and Alyssa Herzing; back, from left, Megan McClard, Kalie Buecker, Taylor Rook, Lydia Simon and Alex Miller.
ALTON – It’s a new game for the Marquette Catholic High volleyball team this season.
First-year coach Sue Heinz will make it that way for the Explorers. Heinz, 41 and a Civic Memorial High graduate, replaces Meagan Hanlon as the head coach. Hanlon will serve as an assistant and will take over for Larry Lowis as the new girls’ basketball coach.
“I’m excited about it and I do love the game of volleyball,” said Heinz, the St. Ambrose grade school coach the last four years. She will continue helping the St. Ambrose volleyball program this winter.
Heinz is trying to get the Explorers, members of the Prairie State Conference, back on the winning track. Marquette went 26-4 and won a regional title under coach Brian Diskin during the 2005 season. However, the Explorers haven’t reached those heights in recent years.
“The program hasn’t quite been up to its potential,” said Heinz, angling to give it a fresh start. “But from what I’ve seen and watched, we have some extremely talented players.”
The Explorers will get their first taste of competition next week in the Roxana Tournament. Marquette is scheduled to play East Alton-Wood River and Jersey in its first two matches. The tourney concludes Aug. 30.
“We’ve had plenty of players come out – 30 upperclassmen and 25 freshmen,” said Heinz, pleased with those numbers. “We could have 55 players for three teams.”
Senior Alyssa Herzing may serve as the Explorers’ guiding force. She’s the team’s setter and a player Heinz is relying on to keep the team humming.
“Alyssa is a strong leader and she really loves volleyball,” Heinz said.
Taylor Rook, another senior, likely will be the Explorers’ top hitter. “Taylor is a middle hitter; she’s a tall player (6-0) and she will be one of our leaders.”
Anna Daugherty, a junior, will supply some key work at the net, Heinz said.
“She’s a phenomenal outside hitter,” Heinz said. “Anna could be one of our ‘go-to’ players.”
Twins Brittany and Andria Pace add strength up front. The 6-1 juniors are power hitters, Heinz said. “They are also fierce competitors,” she added.
Alex Miller, another senior, can provide points as an outside hitter, while senior Maggie Aery will contribute defense. Heinz is undecided about the starting libero.
“That’s up for grabs,” she said.
Once the Explorers finish their competition in the Roxana Tournament, they’ll return home for matches with Litchfield (Sept. 2) and CM (Sept. 3). They will be in three more matches prior to the East Alton-Wood River Tournament (Sept. 13).
“I think we have a well-rounded team and we should be quite a competitive team,” Heinz said. “Our main goal is to teach the girls the game and hopefully, winning will follow.
“It’s about teaching basic skills and running the offense and defense. We have the right players to do it and the kids have a good work ethic.”
Marquette has slated conference dates with Bunker Hill, EA-WR, Mount Olive, Metro East Lutheran and Nokomis.
“Our schedule is a very good one,” Heinz said. “If we put forth the effort, I can definitely see things going in a positive direction.”
MARQUETTE EXPLORERS VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 25-26, 30 – Roxana Tournament
Sept. 2 – Litchfield, 6 p.m.
Sept. 3 – CM, 5 p.m.
Sept. 4 – at Greenville, 5 p.m.
Sept. 9 – at Hillsboro, 5 p.m.
Sept. 10 – at Jersey, 5 p.m.
Sept. 13 – EA-WR Tournament
Sept. 15 – at Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Sept. 16 – Cardinal Ritter, 4:15
Sept. 18 – at Bunker Hill*, 5 p.m.
Sept. 23 – at EA-WR*, 5 p.m.
Sept. 25 – at Mater Dei, 5:15
Sept. 30 – Mount Olive*, 6
Oct. 6 – Metro East Lutheran*, 6
Oct. 7 – Valmeyer, 6 p.m.
Oct. 9 – Roxana, 5 p.m.
Oct. 14 – Waterloo Gibault, 5 p.m.
Oct. 16 – at Nokomis*, 6 p.m.
Oct. 23 – Madison, 6 p.m.
*Denotes conference games
MARQUETTE EXPLORERS VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
Name HT POS
Alyssa Herzing 5-7 Setter
Taylor Rook 6-0 Insider-Outside Hitter
Alex Miller 5-7 Inside-Outside Hitter
Maggie Aery 5-6 Defender
Rachel Pohlman 5-6 Setter
Lydia Simon 5-7 Inside-Outside Hitter
Kalie Buecker 5-8 Libero
Megan McClard 5-7 Inside-Outside Hitter
Madi Murray 5-7 Defender
Anna Daugherty 5-6 Inside-Outside Hitter
Brittany Pace 6-1 Inside-Outsider Hitter
Andria Pace 6-1 Inside-Outside Hitter
Katie Gierer 5-4 Libero
Caitlyn Hanlon 5-7 Inside-Outside Hitter
Carly Vitale 5-5 Inside-Outside Hitter