BETHALTO — The Civic Memorial Eagles played efficient volleyball in a 25-19, 25-14 win over Triad on Tuesday in Bethalto.
The near mistake free match led to the first Mississippi Valley home victory for the Eagles since Oct. 18, 2012. With the win, CM is now 14-11-1 overall and 3-5 in the MVC. The Knights dipped to 8-13 and 1-7 after the loss.
For the seniors on the Eagles, the win was their first in the conference in their own gym. It was a nice accomplishment for the group.
“It's very special for us,” senior Kennedy Carnes said. “The past few years have been very down in conference. It's been kind of unfortunate going through and losing so many conference games and so many home games and to win one finally in our gym, especially my senior year, is very special.”
CM head coach Amanda Biggs took over the program when the current crop of seniors were freshman, so it's the first home MVC win of her short career, too. She said it was a discussion leading into the game. The Eagles bested the Knights in Troy on Sept. 20 to snap a 32-match losing streak in the MVC.
“We talked before the match how important it was for us to just kind of hit that milestone of OK, 'We've worked really hard, gotten a couple conference wins under our belt, now is where we really need to showcase and get our first conference win at home,'” Biggs said. “We wanted to show everybody, this is who we are, this is CM volleyball.”
They did that in dominant fashion vs. Triad. The Eagles trailed 6-5 in Game 1 and 5-4 in Game 2, but never were behind in either game after that. They committed minimal unforced errors and only had two service errors late in the second game.
It was an efficient performance and one that pleased Biggs.
“I love it because that's what we've been emphasizing so much is finishing,” Biggs said. “That's putting away the points quickly and when volleys are going on we have to be the ones that come out on top. It's great to hear the girls buy into that and to see them actually commit to it and prove it out on the court. It just confirmed everything that we've been doing this season.”
Triad coach Lee Coakley admitted he's seen the improvement from CM. He doesn't enjoy seeing it at his team's expense, but he's impressed with their progression.
“CM is a solid, solid team this year,” Coakley said. “They've really been building their program the last couple of years I've noticed and they're getting better and better. They moved really well on defense and had some really big, powerful hits. They're picking their hits, hitting short balls and really hard 10-foot balls which is really nice to have. We had a really hard time handling it tonight and trying to get blocks off of it. They were keying off our blocks all night long, so our defense had some gaps in it and they played a really great game.”
Carnes got it started in the first game with a kill to stake the Eagles to a 1-0 lead. She had another kill a little later to tie the game at 5-5 and after the Knights grabbed a 6-5 lead, fellow senior Baliegh Gehrs provided a kill to tie it at 6-6 and start a 3-0 scoring spurt. CM never trailed in the game again.
The Eagles' major Game 1 run came after a Triad service error made it 14-12. That spurred a 4-0 spree, highlighted by a pair of Gehrs' kills.
CM outscored the Knights 11-7 down the stretch to close out the win. Gehrs and Kaity Kappler had kills down the stretch to guide the Eagles to the win.
“We're all very excited for regionals and we knew what Triad had to offer and we played a really solid game all the way around,” Carnes said. “Even coming off a long weekend we had it in us to fight through every point and keep the mistakes to a minimum.”
The second game was more dominant than the first. Triad tied it 6-6 on a kill by Sydney Steed, but the Eagles took flight from there. They strung together three straight points with Carnes and Gehrs supplying kills to go up 8-6.
They later had a 4-0 lead to go up 17-11 and outscored the Knights 8-2 the rest of the way to win the game and the match. Cara Melton secured the victory with a kill on match point.
Carnes and Gehrs led the attack at the net with 11 and 6 kills respectively. Sydney Marshall continued her efficient passing game with a team-high 23 assists. Kappler led the way with 8 service points, Carnes had 4 solo blocks and 3 assists and Melton and Annika Ochs each accumulated 14 digs to direct the defense.
The Eagles now turn their attention to the Jersey Tournament this weekend. They open with Greenville at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Jerseyville.
Biggs hopes to keep things rolling. After the tourney, CM welcomes Jersey for Senior Night at 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 and travels to Mascoutah on Oct. 18 before entering the Class 3A Jersey Regional the following week.
“We're excited about having a tournament right before regionals just because it gives us an opportunity to get in some great matches,” Biggs said. “We're confident in our abilities and we're going to use it as momentum to push us through.”