GODFREY — The Marquette Catholic Explorers got revenge on the Alton Redbirds on Tuesday at Lewis and Clark Community College.
In 2014, Alton won the annual dual between the crosstown rivals, 5-4. It was the first time the Redbirds had shaded Marquette since 2007. On Tuesday the Explorers halted AHS from starting a streak of its own, winning 8-1.
Marquette head coach Jim Claywell said it's an important dual on the schedule every year, even outside of the bragging rights.
“Obviously it's fun to play the match with Alton, but we don't really focus on the rivalry,” Claywell said. “All these girls know each other, but we try and go about it like any other match. Clearly not having Janelle Wilson was a help for us. She was a wonderful player and she played two years at Marquette and one at Alton. You can't expect to match up with someone like that, but we still knew they had three or four really good players and they've all improved and have worked on their games and we've done the same.”
The win elevated the Explorers to 6-2 on the young season, while Alton dipped to 4-5 in dual action with the loss.
The highlight of the night was at No. 2 singles where Marquette's Elena Gable and AHS' Abby Fischer battled for two and a half hours. The grueling marathon match ended with Gable pulling out a tight 6-4, 5-7, 11-9 victory.
Claywell thought it was a shame someone had to lose the well-played match.
“You hate to see a loser in that because they're both winners,” Claywell said. “You play a third-set tiebreaker like that and it's 11-9, two points separate that entire match. It came down to a solid one or two points for who was going to win the match.”
Alton assistant coach Jesse Macias, filling in for head coach Robert Logan on Tuesday, hoped losing the match wouldn't linger with Fischer, but he didn't think it would.
“She's a great doubles player and she's kind of focused on that, so I hope it doesn't effect her singles psyche, but she's young and tough and has always bounced back,” Macias said. “We haven't seen her get down on herself and she was down in the match and kept fighting.”
Every other singles match and two doubles matches were finished before Gable and Fischer's match, leaving them to take the court immediately after singles in No. 1 doubles.
Gable then teamed with Laura Moore at No. 1 doubles to top Fischer and her partner Shannon Willis in another long match. Marquette won the battle 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 (10-7). All-in-all the dual lasted nearly five hours.
Claywell said that's why they play it, it's a great warm-up for postseason.
“Alton's got good players and obviously we don't have the opportunity to play Edwardsville,” he said. “Then we play Belleville East, Belleville West, Triad, Mascoutah who has a good program. We have to schedule some teams that have good programs and top players, we need that competition. We can't keep playing against programs that aren't quite as good. We've always tried to schedule up if you will.”
So Tuesday was a good win for the Explorers.
In singles besides Gable, Shelby Jones won 6-1, 6-1 over Shannon Willis of Alton at No. 1, Moore won 6-2, 6-0 over AHS' Mary McDaniel at No. 3, Abby Simonds prevailed 6-1, 6-1 over Katie Cronin at No. 5 and Anne Tassinari bested Sam Clayton 6-1, 6-2 at No. 6.
Hannah Macias won the lone match for the Redbirds at No. 4 singles, beating Adri Ventimiglia 6-3 in the first set before Ventimiglia retired from the match.
The Explorers swept the doubles flights. After Galbe and Moore's win at No. 1, Jones and Tassinari bested McDaniel and Macias 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 and Simonds and Allison Hoefert won 6-3, 6-1 over Cronin and Karen Rodriguez at No. 3.
Though the Redbirds lost, Macias thought they fought hard against their crosstown rivals, they just came up on the short end.
“It's a great rivalry and Alton came out on the short end, but I know our girls had fun today and they played hard.”