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Civic Memorial outlasts Alton Marquette in battle of 20-win teams

Civic Memorial outlasts Alton Marquette in battle of 20-win teams

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BETHALTO — Kristie Ochs has seen her team repeatedly do it all season and yet it still surprises her.

All year, the Civic Memorial girls volleyball team has found itself down big before rallying. 

"I am shocked every time that they can dig an eight-point hole and then dig right back out of it," Ochs said. "It's amazing."

The Eagles continued that formula Wednesday, defeating Alton Marquette 25-19, 19-25, 25-22 at Civic Memorial High School.

"Tonight was huge," Ochs said. "We came off two losses in the (Mississippi Valley Conference). Coming back tonight shows the resiliency of these girls."

Civic Memorial (21-6-1) has won four of the last five meetings against the Explorers. The 21 wins mark the most wins under third-year coach Ochs and is the program's most wins in a season since 2005.

The Eagles are two wins away from tying the record set by the 1988 team, which included current Alton Marquette coach Sue Heinz as a player 

"It's always sweet to come back here and coach on the court where I played," Heinz said. "Kristie has done a great job with this program and these girls."

Alton Marquette bolted out to an 11-3 lead and looked firmly in command before Ochs burned her first timeout.

"She just kept calling timeouts and kept (encouraging us)," Civic Memorial coach Annabelle Reno said. 

The Eagles went on a 9-1 run to tie the game before closing out the first set for a win. 

Alton Marquette (21-5-2) exploded in the second set, powered by a nigh-impenetrable defense that put the clamps on Civic Memorial. 

"Tonight Alton Marquette didn't have any holes in their defense," Ochs said. "A lot of time when the blocks are up, we can kind of tip it to a hole, but tonight there wasn't many holes there."

Alton Marquette senior Abby Williams picked up five blocks to key its stifling defense. 

While the defense seemingly turned away any attack by Civic Memorial, senior setter Maddie Brueckner kept running the offense to perfection.

"Maddie, we tried to wear her down and she just never wore down running that 5-1 offense," Heinz said. "That's just a good team. It was fun."

Civic Memorial never trailed in the third set and closed out the win with Brueckner picking up 18 assists. Senior hitter Lauren Dunlap led the way with nine kills while Reno chipped in eight.

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