BETHALTO – When the volleyball season comes to an end in October, Granite City’s Ginger Harrison and Civic Memorial’s Amanda Biggs hope to celebrate their first winning seasons as head coaches.
So far, both the Eagles and Warriors have played seven matches and are enjoying winning records.
After beating Granite City 25-16, 25-15 on Tuesday at home, Civic Memorial improved to 6-1. The Warriors are 4-3 after the loss to the Eagles.
Civic Memorial has won five matches in a row after losing to Roxana in the Roxana Tournament on Aug. 22.
“It’s great to get the wins, but what’s even better is I’ve been seeing all of the work that we have been putting in have finally come together,” Biggs said. “It’s great to see that senior leadership out of those girls and how they dominate the floor.”
After starting their season on Sept. 1 with a two-game loss to Highland, the Warriors bounced back with a second-place finish in the Alton Redbirds Classic over the weekend. Granite City finished 4-1 in the six-team tournament.
“We’re just working hard,” Granite City senior Madeline Sheridan said. “We’re trying to have a really good season this year and I think we can have a great season.”
The Eagles will play in the Alton Invitational Tournament this weekend. CM will play Jerseyville and Roxana on Friday and Fort Zumwalt North and Carrollton on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” CM senior Kaity Kappler said. “There are a lot of good teams and teams that we’ll see later on this season. It’s a good time for us to see what they’re like.”
The Warriors will play Metro East Lutheran on Wednesday and Collinsville on Thursday, both matches are on the road.
“Metro East’s got a good team and Collinsville has another good team,” Harrison said. “We look forward to this week of competition.”
The Eagles got a strong effort from their senior class in their win over the Warriors. Sydney Marshall had 19 assists, Kappler served four aces, Annika Ochs had 16 digs, Kennedy Carnes finished with six kills and Bailey Gehrs had five kills.
“CM has worked really hard and they move really well,” Harrison said. “I spoke to their coach after the game and I said, ‘You look like a new team.’ She said, ‘We’ve been working really hard.’ I believe it because they showed it tonight.”
CM never trailed in the first game. With the Eagles leading 6-5, they went on a 10-0 run to take a 16-5 lead. Marshall served nine points during that run.
“One of the things that we’ve been focusing on is getting those runs,” Biggs said. “We’ve been focusing a lot on our aggressive serves and attacking the serve receive from our opponents.”
Granite City was leading 13-10 in the second game before the Eagles came back with another 10-0 run to take a 20-13 lead they never relinquished. Kappler, who served nine points during that run, said she knew her team was going to come back and win.
“That’s our team spirit,” the CM senior said. “We can come back from that and we know how.”
Last year, the Eagles got off to a 6-1 start before finishing 13-15-3.
Biggs, who is in her fourth season as CM coach, she’s pleased with the way her team has been performing after the first two weeks.
“Our defense is strong and our hitters are actually swinging,” Biggs said. “Sydney is controlling the game and giving us great options in order to get those kills.”
A year ago, the Warriors were 1-6 after their first seven matches and finished 7-21-2.
Harrison, who is in her fourth season as Granite City coach, said good chemistry has been the key reason in her team’s strong start this season.
“They form a pretty tight bond on and off the court,” she said. “They have learned how to back each other up in ways that we have never done before. They’re working every day in practice on how to maximize every ball. We have some work to do on our blocking, but I can’t ask any more than what they’re giving me. They’re giving me hard work every day they come to the court.”
The Warriors and Eagles each have a large group of seniors. Granite City has nine seniors and CM has seven.
Sheridan said getting a winning season is pretty important to her and the rest of the senior class.
“That will be amazing,” she said. “It will be so much fun for all of us. We all come a long way as a team and I think we’re working really hard to have a great season.”
Kappler said she hopes to end her high school volleyball career on a winning team. CM hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, when it finished 20-12.
“That’s a huge goal of ours to have a great final season,” Kappler said.