BETHALTO -- Civic Memorial coach Amanda Biggs always looks forward to her team playing the Metro East Lutheran Knights.
Biggs was a member of the MELHS volleyball coaching staff for four years before being hired as CM head coach in 2013. She also played volleyball at the Edwardsville school in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
“It’s always a great match when we get to play each other,” Biggs said.
The Eagles won their fourth straight meeting over the Knights with a 25-14, 25-21 win on Thursday in a non-conference match at home. CM also snapped a three-match home losing streak.
“It was a really good game because we all came together and played well,” CM senior Baleigh Gehrs said.
MELHS was leading 21-20 in the second game and was four points away from sending the match to a third game. But CM rallied with a 5-0 run to pull off the win over the Knights.
CM senior Annika Ochs served four straight points -- including three aces -- during that 5-0 run. She finished with four aces,10 service points and 10 digs.
“We work on serving every day,” Ochs said. “We put in a lot of work on serving and finding the holes in the other defense and really work on finding the seams and trying to hit those.”
CM improved to 13-11-1 with three matches and a tournament remaining in its regular season. The Eagles’ next match will be Tuesday against Triad at home.
“The last few weeks, we want to pick up some more conference wins and finish out our conference strong and just prepare ourselves for regionals,” Biggs said.
Ochs said she’s been pleased with the way her team has been playing this season. The Eagles stormed to a 7-1 start this season.
“We’ve been working really hard and we’ve been putting in a lot of work and effort,” Ochs said. “We’ve been really connecting as a team and better than we have in the past years and it feels good.”
The Knights dropped to 8-17 with three regular season matches to go. Their next match will be on Tuesday against Greenville at home.
“Everything is just about getting tuned up for regionals,” MELHS coach Jon Giordano said. “That’s got to be the goal. So when we play a good team like CM and other teams, we need to focus on making every step forward instead of backwards.”
Senior Courtney Fenelon had four kills, senior Danielle Timmerman had four kills and nine digs, senior Lydia Flaherty finished with 15 assists, junior Emily Schwarz had nine digs and sophomore Ellen Schulte had three kills for the Knights.
Giordano said Fenelon, Timmerman and Flaherty have been strong performers for his team all season long.
“Those three have started since they were sophomores,” the MELHS coach said. “They certainly got a lot of experience and it’s a lot of fun to see what they bring to the table every night. I’m blessed to have them and all of the seniors to be part of this program.”
For CM, senior Cara Melton had 10 digs and seven service points, senior Kennedy Carnes finished with seven kills and three blocks, senior Sydney Marshall had 19 assists and senior Kaity Kappler had four blocks.
Trailing 3-1 in the first game, the Eagles went on a 5-0 run to take a 6-3 lead. Melton served four of those points, including a pair of aces.
CM later built that lead to 18-8 after Ochs served four straight points.
“We came out really strong in the first game and that’s one of the things that we’ve been preaching all season,” Biggs said. “We’ve got to have fast starts and we’ve got to stay up and stay ahead. We definitely did that in the first game.”
In the second game, the Knights took an 11-6 lead. A kill by Timmerman gave MELHS a 21-20 lead, forcing CM to call a timeout.
A MELHS hitting error tied the game at 21-21. Then, Ochs served an ace to give the Eagles a 22-21 lead.
The Eagles scored the next three points on a Kappler block and two more aces by Ochs to win the game and match.
“Civic Memorial wasn’t quite as sharp in the second game as they were in the first game,” Giordano said. “Some of that because we were more efficient. But at the same time, they made the plays when they needed to at the end and we didn’t and that’s volleyball.”