Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Roxana girls’ volleyball team poses with their second-place trophy at the Alton Invitational on Sept. 10. The Shells are enjoying a strong start to the season. They were also third at the Roxana Tournament to open the season.
Mike McKinney reached a milestone on Aug. 22.
After seeing his team pull off a three-game win over the Civic Memorial Eagles in the second game of the Roxana Tournament in front of a large crowd, McKinney picked up his 300th win in his 22-year career as Roxana head coach.
“I had no clue that I had 300 wins,” McKinney said.
Now, McKinney’s next goal is to get another winning season. The Shells entered this week with an 11-5 record.
“They’re exceeding our expectations,” said McKinney, who sat at 308-367 as Shells’ coach as of Monday. “We have just three seniors out of our 14 girls playing varsity. A lot of our young kids are getting experience and they’re improving. Everybody is working as a team and that’s all you can ask as a coach.”
Roxana placed third in the Roxana Tournament and finished second in the Alton Tournament.
Roxana also enjoyed victories of Alton and two against Civic Memorial, along with a pair of wins in South Central Conference play.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Roxana senior libero Niah Bevolo said. “I think we stepped it up so much from last year and I hope we continue to do a lot better.”
Bevolo said the second-place finish at Alton has given her team a boost of confidence.
“It shows that we can compete with the better teams,” she said. “We just don’t lay down whenever we’re faced with a challenge.”
Bevolo, Abby Palen and Taylor Westfall make up the senior class. Juniors Brittany Alexander, Lindsey Scroggins, Krysta Meyer, Hannah Kelley and Braeden Lackey, sophomores Abby Kurth, Taylor Jackson and Lindsey Cameron and freshman Kiley Winfree round out the varsity.
Lackey had 120 kills and 145 digs and Westfall had 121 kills and 137 digs coming into Monday. Both earned all-tournament honors at the Alton Invitational Tournament.
Also for the Shells, Bevolo has 320 assists, Kurth has 17 service aces and Kelley has 15 blocks.
Every year, McKinney set a goal for his team to finish with a winning week. So far this season, the Shells had a winning record in three of the first four weeks of the season.
“If you have a winning week, you’re going to win 20,” McKinney said. “As long as you don’t have a losing week or losing streak, good things are going to happen.”
McKinney took over the Roxana program in 1995. Before that, the Shells won just 40 matches in the previous 14 seasons.
“Before we were married, my ex-wife used to teach down here (in Roxana) and coach at Trimpe Middle School in Bethalto,” McKinney said. “She moved up north and was coaching with me at Morrisonville. When the job was open down here, I can teach German and I can coach volleyball and they doubled my pay.”
Now, McKinney has turned Roxana into one of the more competitive small-school teams in the Metro East. During his tenure, the Shells won 20 games or more three times, finished with nine winning seasons and captured a pair of regional championships in 2003 and 2013.
“I have good kids,” McKinney said.
Bevolo said the reason McKinney is so successful is he’s determined to win every game.
“He drives us to do better every day and he pushes us to our limits,” Bevolo said. “It shows us that we can do so much better than the next time.”
Bevolo has been playing with McKinney since her eighth-grade year at Roxana Junior High.
“I’m going to miss him a lot,” Bevolo said. “It’s going to be different not playing volleyball, especially for him because he’s been my coach for a very long time.”
McKinney has been coaching volleyball for 28 years.
“I love volleyball,” McKinney said. “I live and breathe it and I do it year round. As soon as I get done with high school, we get the month off in November. Then we got junior high and as soon as I get done with that, I go watch my girls play in club ball all summer long.”
McKinney also coaches the eighth-grade squad at Roxana Junior High. Andrea Keller coaches the seventh-grade team, which finished fourth in the IESA Class 3A tournament last spring.
“She (Keller) does a great job with the girls,” McKinney said. “She’s also the varsity coach at Mount Olive. I couldn’t have asked for a better seventh-grade coach. She’s been coaching them in club as well as junior high. I hope I can live up to what they did last year because I get them this year.”
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