Photo by Bill Roseberry
Sue Heinz talks to the Marquette Explorer volleyball team during a match with Civic Memorial at Marquette on Sept. 3. Heinz is enjoying her first season as head coach.
ALTON — The Marquette Catholic girls’ volleyball team is under new management in 2014.
Sue Heinz takes over the reins of the Explorers, looking to turn things around for a program that has only won one playoff match in 2007 in Class 2A since Illinois expanded to four classes. The last time Marquette got out of a regional was 2005 when it was still a two-class system, losing 25-15, 25-8 to Breese Central in the sectional finals. The Explorers went 26-4 under head coach Brian Diskin that season.
A Civic Memorial alum, Heinz replaces Meagan Hanlon, who stayed on staff as an assistant. Hanlon is preparing to take over the helm of the Marquette girls’ basketball team this winter.
“They’ve welcomed me in as the new coach,” the 41-year-old Heinz said, who has been coaching St. Ambrose grade school volleyball the last four years. “They’re excited — a new coach, a new year and they have this new attitude. They do everything I ask and they work hard at practice and work hard in the games, and it’s all I can ask.”
Heinz said the biggest obstacle has been getting the Explorers to find confidence in themselves after a recent history that hasn’t included much success. She sees the spark in them when they are confident and clicking, though.
“One thing we’re still working on as a team is our confidence level,” Heinz said. “I think as a team that hasn’t been as successful in the past as they could have been, the confidence level is low. We’re working on that every day.”
That’s why Heinz was stoked about the quick start the Explorers had on the season. They sling-shotted themselves into the semifinals of the Roxana Tournament with wins over East Alton-Wood River and Jersey on Aug. 26, the first day of pool play in the tourney. Marquette ended up fourth in the tourney, losing to Roxana and Alton in the semifinal and third-place matches.
“I’m so proud of them,” Heinz said. “They played their heart out on that Tuesday night in pool play and they made me proud. They did everything of them that we asked; they worked for it in practice. Everything was coming together, so it worked good, and then Saturday we didn’t fare as well, but my No. 1 setter (Alyssa Herzing) was out sick, so we had our second-string quarterback in, so we didn’t do as well. I told them that’s why you get out in a tournament like that because it puts you in a bracket and then you can finish higher.”
There is plenty of veteran leadership on the Explorers in 2014 with nine seniors. There are also six juniors contributing. Through Tuesday, Marquette had a record of 3-5.
Junior Anna Daugherty leads the attack at the net with 40 kills, while senior Taylor Rook has contributed 24. Senior Alyssa Herzing is the catalyst for the offense with 68 assists and junior Katie Gierer is a stabilizer on defense at libero with 73 digs.
Heinz believes Marquette’s biggest asset may be the leadership provided by Herzing and Daugherty.
“(Herzing) goes after everything as our setter and then Anna Daugherty, she’s a junior, she’s all over and she can hit the ball no matter where she’s at,” Heinz said. “It also helps us at the net with our size for blocks and tips, but Anna takes it to them every time.”
The Explorers are back in another tournament Saturday, competing in the EA-WR Tournament. Their first Prairie State Conference match isn’t until 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at Bunker Hill.