ALTON — The Civic Memorial Eagles started fast on Wednesday at Marquette Catholic High and never slowed down.
CM swept the Explorers, 25-9, 25-16, utilizing its size at the net and taking advantage of a ton of Marquette mistakes. The win comes on the heels of the Eagles beating Marquette 25-20, 25-14 for fifth place in the Roxana Tournament on Saturday.
CM improved to 5-1 with the win, while the Explorers slipped to 3-3.
“Our goal this match was to take control early in the games and keep that control throughout,” Eagles' head coach Amanda Biggs said. “We were going to make this a two game night, take control, stay in control and finish strong and that's exactly what we did.”
Marquette on the other hand struggled with hitting errors and service errors. The Explorers committed six service errors in the two games.
“They definitely played smarter than us,” Marquette coach Sue Heinz said. “We gave the ball to them too much. We did not come out aggressively, too many tips, too many dinks. We've got to swing at a team like that because they're swinging at us. Our best servers missed serves, our best passers were over passing, our best hitters were hitting out and you can't win a game with that — with everything failing.”
The Explorers took a 1-0 lead in the opening game, proving to be their only lead in the set. Cara Melton answered with a kill to knot it at 1-1 after that.
When a Marquette service error allowed the Eagles to take a 4-2 edge, it kick started a 12-0 CM run behind Melton's serving. A couple blocks by Kennedy Carnes, a kill by Baleigh Gehrs and an ace by Melton helped pad the scoring spurt.
The Explorers strung together a few points toward the end of the game, but could never make a threat.
“We've been working really hard preparing for this game,” CM senior Annika Ochs said. “We knew it was going to be tougher (than Saturday). We knew they were going to come out and really work hard because they wanted to beat us. We knew we had to work this week and we really did that.”
Heinz believed seeing the Eagles twice in a week could benefit Marquette, but that wasn't the case.
“We wanted to come back after that loss down at the Roxana Tournament so bad, because I thought we could really play with them, but I guess the girls didn't want to really give an effort tonight,” Heinz said. “I think it helps you because you know what you messed up with them the first match and we did focus on those errors we made the first time, but then they found another weakness of ours.”
Again the Explorers nabbed a 1-0 lead to start Game 2, but a service error turned it back to the Eagles. Marquette made a more valiant effort in the second game, owning a 6-5 lead before CM started to pull away.
Hannah Schmidt hammered a kill to tie it at 6-6, which began a 6-0 spree for the Eagles. Sydney Marshall supplied an ace and Kaity Kappler had a kill during the run to build an 11-6 lead.
Later, the Explorers climbed within six at 18-12 and 19-13 on consecutive kills by Regina Guehlstorf, but could not inch any closer.
Two late Marquette service errors helped the Eagles to put the match away.
With seven seniors on the roster and a lot of varsity experience, CM is looking to turn the corner after a couple of roller coaster seasons. Biggs is hoping the mindset is different in 2016.
“We are focusing on everything positive,” Biggs said. “We're not dwelling on the negative. We're going to take out of a play what is positive and that's shown with their focus and their drive on the court.”
Ochs echoed the same sentiment as her coach.
“We have a lot of seniors this year so we know what we have to do,” Ochs said. “We know we have to work hard and we've definitely been putting in a lot of time in the gym and a lot of effort. We've been playing together for a long time, so we have good chemistry and we just work really well as a team and that really helps.”
Ochs had a team-high three aces and eight digs on Wednesday. Marshall dished out a high 12 assists, Melton gathered 10 digs and 12 service points and Kappler had a team-best four blocks and four kills.
Marquette was led in kills by Guehlstorf and Brooklyn Taylor with three each, Marissa Nosco divvied out a team-high nine assists, Taylor had three service points, Kate Cogan supplied two aces and Laura Hamilton had six digs.
CM next plays host to Granite City at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, while the Explorers head to Greenville at 7 p.m. Thursday.