Pictured are the senior volleyball players for the Marquette Explorers. In front from left to right are: Katie Geier, Anna Daugherty and Carly Vitale. In back from left to right are: Andria Pace, Brittany Pace and Caitlyn Hanlon.
Sue Heinz saw the Marquette Catholic High volleyball team take a step in the right direction last fall.
Now, the second-year coach hopes the Explorers can make a larger stride in search of bigger and better things.
Marquette posted an 11-15 record in 2014 after winning a total of 10 matches the previous three seasons. So there’s advancement in the forecast for the Explorers, who started their season this week in the Roxana Tournament.
“We want to keep improving and win more matches than we did last season,” said Heinz, a 1990 Civic Memorial High graduate. “We want to be above .500.”
The Explorers haven’t enjoyed that type of success since 2005, when they compiled a 26-4 record and secured a regional championship. They went 17-8 in 2004.
What stokes Heinz’ optimism is that the Explorers are built around experience. That should bode well for them in the Prairie State Conference.
“We have six seniors returning,” she said, pointing out that they will play pivotal roles for the team.
The key players back could be 6-foot-1 senior twins Andria and Brittany Pace. They likely will serve as forces around the net and spark the Explorers’ front row power play.
“They are talented and they block well together,” Heinz said. “Andria also was one of the top servers in the St. Louis area last season. She’s a very good server and a good all-around player.”
Anna Daugherty, a 5-6 senior and Caitlyn Hanlon, a 5-7 senior, also will supply solid play around the net, Heinz said. Both are outside hitters.
“I think we can be strong up front,” Heinz said.
Katie Gierer, a 5-4 libero and Carly Vitale, a 5-5 defensive specialist, complete the gifted senior group.
Sophomore Marissa Nosco could emerge as a key player in the Explorers’ fortunes. The 5-4 setter will help run the team’s offense.
“She’s an excellent player,” Heinz said, “and I expect her to be a team leader. She trained with Alyssa Herzing.”
A senior last year, Herzing is now playing at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
Several juniors also figure prominently in the Explorers’ plans. They include: 5-9 middle hitter Michelle Cameron, 5-9 outside hitter Kate Cogan, 5-6 defensive specialist Faith Griffon, 5-4 libero Laura Hamilton and 5-5 defensive specialist Karoline Lauritzen.
Sophomores Grace Frost, a 5-5 outside hitter and Regina Guehlstorf, a 5-10 middle hitter, round out the squad. Frost was the catcher for the successful Marquette softball team.
“We’re working on improving our defense and tweaking some things to makes us quicker,” Heinz said. “We want to play a quick game.”
Parts of the plan in generating a winning season includes conference and postseason success, Heinz said.
“One of our goals is to win the conference,” she noted. “And we want to make a run for a regional championship. Last year, we won a regional match for the first time in a while and it’s not out of our reach to win a regional championship this year.
“So I’m looking for good things and confident we will do better than we did last year.”
Following the Roxana tourney, the Explorers will play at Litchfield (Sept. 1) and Civic Memorial (Sept. 2) before welcoming Greenville (Sept. 3) in its home opener. Marquette and East Alton-Wood River will play co-host to a tournament Sept. 12 at both schools.
Quick Hits/2015 Outlook
Team: Marquette Explorers
Head coach: Sue Heinz
Conference: Prairie State
2014 Record: 11-15, 2-3
Career record: 1 year, 11-15
Last playoff: 2014 Class 2A Regional semifinals
NAME HT POS
Anna Daugherty 5-6 OH
Katie Gierer 5-4 Libero
Caitlyn Hanlon 5-7 OH
Andria Pace 6-1 MH
Brittany Pace 6-1 MH
Carly Vitale 5-5 DS
Michelle Cameron 5-9 MH
Kate Cogan 5-9 OH
Faith Griffon 5-6 DS
Laura Hamilton 5-4 Libero
Karoline Lauritzen 5-5 DS
Grace Forts 5-5 OH
Regina Guehlstorf 5-10 MH
Marissa Nosco 5-4 Setter
Aug. 29, 8:30 a.m. at Roxana Tournament
Sept. 1, 6 p.m. at Litchfield
Sept. 2, 5 p.m. at CM
Sept. 3, 5 p.m. vs. Greenville
Sept. 8, 5 p.m. vs. Hillsboro
Sept. 9, 6 p.m. vs. Jersey
Sept. 12, 8 a.m. EA-WR-Marquette Tournament
Sept. 14, 6 p.m. vs. Lebanon
Sept. 15, 4:15 p.m. at Cardinal Ritter
Sept. 17, 6 p.m. vs. Bunker Hill*
Sept. 22, 5 p.m. vs. EA-WR*
Sept. 24, 5 p.m. vs. Mater Dei
Sept. 29, 6 p.m. at Mount Olive*
Oct. 1, 6 p.m. at Brussels
Oct. 5, 6 p.m. at Metro East Lutheran*
Oct. 6, 6 p.m. at Valmeyer
Oct. 8, 6 p.m. at Roxana
Oct. 13, 5 p.m. at Waterloo
Oct. 15, 6 p.m. vs. Nokomis*
Oct. 22, 6 p.m. at Madison
* Denotes conference games