TROY — Civic Memorial’s quest to capture its first Mississippi Valley Conference volleyball win of the season fell short Tuesday at Triad High School.
Yet it wasn’t for a lack of trying by the gritty Eagles. It took three sets to decide it.
The host Knights defeated them 25-16 in the first game. CM responded with a 25-23 win in the second game. Then Triad used a strong spurt late in the third one for a 25-16 win.
Triad improved to 10-8 overall and 5-3 in the MVC. Two of those wins are against CM, which dropped to 8-11-3 and 0-8. The luckless Eagles have lost 28 consecutive conference matches, dating to 2012.
“Every single one of our Valley matches this season have been good matches,” CM coach Amanda Biggs said. “We seem to step up and play to the competition.
“The girls just need to believe we can get there. We need a little self-confidence.”
Triad coach Lee Coakley indicated the Eagles pushed the Knights to the limit.
“They are a good team, and they play hard and are scrappy,” he said. “We kept the pressure on them in the third game and I told them they needed to attack, attack and attack because they have a very good defense.”
Back and forth it went in the winner-take-all third game, which was knotted eight times. It was tied 13-13 the last time before the Knights rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
They used a 9-2 spree to forge ahead 22-15 and outscored the Eagles 12-3 down the stretch for their second three-game win over CM this season.
“I kind of think they we ran out of gas at the end of the third game,” Biggs said. “We stepped up and played hard in that second game and showed that we could play with anybody.
“We are getting closer and closer and our purpose now is for the postseason. We want to be successful in it.”
Kennedy Carnes, a 5-foot-11 junior hitter and Sydney Marshall, a 5-9 junior setter, enlivened the Eagles against Triad. Carnes led the way with seven kills and Marshall contributed 18 assists in a starting lineup that featured no seniors. Then there was senior reserve McKenna Geist collecting 16 service points.
Sophomore Hannah Schmidt logged seven kills, while senior Kylie Linkeman and sophomore Susan Buchanan both provided four kills.
“We have some good hitters and blockers,” Biggs said. “I thought we executed well in the second game. We’re building experience.”
Senior Allison Richter led experienced Triad, benefiting from three senior starters. She amassed a dozen kills, tops for all hitters. Twin Abigail Richter pitched in with six skills, while senior Abby Burroughs accounted for eight kills, two blocks and two aces.
“She’s a good athlete and hitter,” Coakley said of Allison Richter. “Abigail had a nice night and so did Abby.”
The Richters and Burroughs helped the Knights shoot ahead 18-12 in the first game and they never looked back. The Eagles led 10-5 in the second one, but Triad battled back to even it at 17-17 and then 21-21.
Three successive points put CM in front, then Triad responded with two points, cutting the Eagles’ advantage to 24-23. CM notched the final point setting up the last game.
“The Valley is like that,” Coakley said of the tight scores. “Our matches have been back and forth and it seems to make a difference in who has the most seniors.”
That should give CM some comfort. The young Eagles continue to be a work in progress, waiting for their turn to bloom. They still have MVC matches remaining with Mascoutah (Oct. 20) and Jersey (Oct. 22) before heading to Class 3A IHSA regional competition. CM meets East Alton-Wood River at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, in Greenville. It’s part of the Rochester Sectional.