ROXANA – The Civic Memorial Eagles got a big boost of confidence going into their Mississippi Valley Conference season that starts on Tuesday.
The Eagles knocked off the Roxana Shells 25-20, 25-23 in the third meeting this season between both teams on Monday at Roxana. Civic Memorial improved to 8-5 and won its second road match of the season.
“We knew what we were coming into,” CM senior Kennedy Carnes said. “We knew what Roxana had to offer and we knew we had to push through it. We had great energy, we kept it up and we never dug ourselves a hole. We stayed ahead the whole time.”
The Eagles beat Roxana for the first time this season after losing to the Shells in the first two meetings. Roxana beat CM on Aug. 22 at the Roxana Tournament and on Friday at the Alton Invitational Tournament.
“Winning three times against a good team is hard to do,” Roxana coach Mike McKinney said. “They celebrated because they won. It was a big thing. You don’t want to get beat by the same team three times. Honestly, they earned it tonight. Bethalto outplayed us.”
Now, the Eagles are looking to turn in a strong season in conference play. They travel to Highland to play the Bulldogs in their league opener on Tuesday. CM also has a home match against Waterloo on Thursday.
Last year, the Eagles were 0-10 in conference play.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of work and what I told the girls and what they told me is we’re going to make a name for ourselves in the conference this year and we’re not going to go unnoticed,” CM coach Amanda Biggs said.
The Eagles have 11 regular season matches and two tournaments remaining in the regular season. They also play in the Granite City Fall Classic on Saturday and the Jersey Tournament on Oct. 15 and have a non-conference match against Metro-East Lutheran on Oct. 6.
“We have a tough conference ahead,” Carnes said. “We know that we have to keep our energy that we proved that we had in this Roxana game. If we keep that going for the rest of the season, I think we’ll do pretty good.”
The Eagles never trailed against the Shells. They stormed to a 9-2 lead in the first game and an 8-2 lead in the second.
“We’ve been working on fast starts and executing those in games and it’s finally coming into play,” Biggs said. “We’ve been very aggressive in our serving work and picking apart other teams on their serve receive and they’ve done a really good job.”
Roxana dropped to 9-5 with the loss. The Shells were coming off a second-place finish at the Alton Tournament over the weekend.
“We were really exhausted,” Roxana senior Niah Bevolo said. “We’ve been playing non-stop since last Thursday.”
The Shells will look to bounce back on Tuesday, when they play East Alton-Wood River at home.
“We played a really intense second game (against CM on Monday), so I think if we could come out with that same intensity, we should be fine,” Bevolo said. “We should do good. We just got to play as a team a little bit more.”
Carnes finished with 11 kills and no errors and six service points, senior Sydney Marshall had 22 assists and senior Cara Melton had 15 digs for the Eagles.
“The passes were on, the sets were on and the kills were on,” Carnes said. “Everyone was doing their part executing and I think that’s what won us the game, along with our attitude and energy.”
Junior Braeden Lackey had seven kills, Bevolo finished with 18 assists and senior Abby Palen had four service points and one ace for Roxana, which suffered its first home loss of the season.
“They hustled tremendously,” Biggs said. “They’re always a great team to play against. We have a lot of respect for them and their girls and McKinney. Even though we do see them three times right away, they’re always great matches.”