Photo by Bill Roseberry
Standing are key members of the 2015 Civic Memorial volleyball squad. In front from left to right are: Cara Melton, junior, McKenna Geist, senior, Annika Ochs, junior and Daria Emerson, senior. In back from left to right are: Kylie Linkeman, senior, Sydney Marshall, junior, Kaity Kappler, junior, Kennedy Carnes, junior and Baleigh Gehrs, junior.
Playing six sophomores and one freshman on a regular basis last season saw the Civic Memorial Eagles turn in a subpar 6-23 record.
They played host to a Class 3A regional and picked up one postseason victory in a 21-25, 26-24, 25-11 win over Hillsboro before seeing their season conclude.
Head coach Amanda Biggs believes the experience will shine through CM will improve in her third season at the helm.
“After summer workouts and the first week I was seeing some really good things,” Biggs said. “The junior class has really stepped up and taken over the varsity program as to what the level of expectation is and they're setting the bar really high.”
The Eagles have players returning to key positions, too. Setter Sydney Marshall is back for her junior season. She led CM with 121 assists in '14.
She joins a junior class that includes returners Kaity Kappler (outside hitter), Annika Ochs (defensive specialist), Cara Melton (outside hitter), Kennedy Carnes (middle hitter) and Baleigh Gehrs (outside hitter). All saw lots of time in '14, along with sophomore Susan Buchanan (middle blocker, outside hitter).
The rest of the roster rounds out with seniors Kylie Linkeman (outside hitter), Daria Emerson (defensive specialist) and McKenna Geist (defensive specialist), junior Lily Mueller (outside hitter) and sophomores Tahler Davis (defensive specialist) and Hannah Schmidt (middle blocker/setter).
“I have Sydney Marshall who was my setter last year returning, Kennedy Carnes, Kaity Kappler,” said Biggs. “Baleigh will slide right in behind where her sister (Saige Gehrs) was and fill that role. And bringing up Annika Ochs, we're going to have a really strong junior class.”
Biggs said the girls need to remember what they learned in '14, but it's time to take it to the next level, especially offensively. The now graduated Saige Gehrs led the Eagles in kills a year ago with 95.
“Our offensive game needs to really step up,” Biggs said. “Too often we were a little bit timid and relied solely on playing defensively and not as aggressive offensively.”
Confidence was an issue at times in 2014, but with the experience and another year of maturity for her young group, Biggs believes the Eagles will believe in their abilities more in '15.
“The attitude this year is totally different,” she said. “Our theme this is year is, 'whatever it takes.' That's truly their mindset and they're not going to quit.”
Schedule-wise the Mississippi Valley Conference will be tough again. CM was winless in league play last year. The Eagles return to the Alton Redbird Classic on Sept. 11-12, the Granite City Tournament on Sept. 19 and the Quincy Notre Dame Tournament on Oct. 23-24. There is one tournament change on the schedule though.
“This year we'll be going to the Jerseyville Tournament, so we'll be playing some schools from up there and getting some different competition instead of the Freeburg Tournament,” Biggs said.
“We play in a really good conference and I'm confident we're going to be able to surprise some teams and show them what Civic Memorial can do.”
Quick Hits/2015 Outlook
TEAM: Civic Memorial Eagles
HEAD COACH: Amanda Biggs
CONFERENCE: Mississippi Valley
2014 RECORD: 6-23
CAREER RECORD: 2 years, 10-43
LAST PLAYOFF: 2014 Class 3A Regional semifinals
NAME HT POS
Daria Emerson 5-9 OH
McKenna Geist 5-4 DS
Kylie Linkeman 5-9 OH
Kennedy Carnes 5-11 MH
Baleigh Gehrs 6-0 OH
Kaity Kappler 5-10 OH
Sydney Marshall 5-9 S
Cara Melton 5-7 OH
Lily Mueller 5-8 OH
Annika Ochs 5-2 DS
Susan Buchanan 5-9 MB/OH
Tahler Davis 5-5 DS
Hannah Schmidt 5-9 MB/S
Sept. 2, 5 p.m. vs. Marquette
Sept. 8, 4:30 p.m. at Granite City
Sept. 11, 5 p.m. at Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 12, 9 a.m. at Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 14, 5 p.m. vs. Roxana
Sept. 15, 5 p.m. vs. Highland*
Sept. 17, 5 p.m. at Waterloo*
Sept. 19, 8 a.m. at Granite City Tournament
Sept. 22, 5 p.m. vs. Triad*
Sept. 24, 5 p.m. at Mascoutah*
Sept. 29, 5 p.m. vs. Jersey*
Oct. 1, 5:30 p.m. at Highland*
Oct. 6, 5 p.m. vs. Waterloo*
Oct. 8, 6 p.m. at Metro East Lutheran
Oct. 13, 5 p.m. at Triad*
Oct. 17, 8:30 a.m. at Jersey Tournament
Oct. 20, 5 p.m. vs. Mascoutah*
Oct. 22, 5 p.m. at Jersey*
Oct. 23, 5 p.m. at Quincy Notre Dame Tournament
Oct. 24, 9 a.m. at Quincy Notre Dame Tournament
*Denotes conference games