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Volleyball roundup: Lady RedHawks earning new coach’s admiration

  • Written by Anthony Nasella

Even though Marist competed in just two varsity matches during the first two weeks of the 2013 season, Julie Popp-Hopkins hasn’t been idle.

  The Lady RedHawks’ first-year coach has been taking in the entire new experience and loves everything she is seeing within the program, especially from her own players.

And that love was particularly evident when she watched Marist play with resilience against defending Class 4A state champion Benet Academy. The Lady RedHawks (2-0) fought back from a first-game loss to defeat the Lady Redwings in three sets, 12-25, 25-19, 25-21, Friday night in Lisle.

Ann Marie Stifter put down 11 kills for Marist, while Colleen Riley and Lizzie Zaleski both delivered eight. Riley augmented her work with three blocks. Also lending a hand were Molly Mayo (31 assists, seven digs) and Carolyn Yerkes (11 digs).

“Playing on the road and defeating Benet was a great experience,” said Popp-Hopkins, a Queen of Peace graduate who also had a stellar collegiate volleyball career at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“Benet is a great program. They’re in our [East Suburban Catholic] conference and they’re back-to-back state champions, so there was a lot preparation on our end to face them.

“We were working on our strengths and also working with a lot of new, fresh bodies on the court. We have just one returning starter from last year [in Yerkes], so we were preparing to play in a tough environment so early in the season.”

And when the Lady RedHawks rebounded from their opening loss and started playing the kind of volleyball they had played in the previous decade-plus under Natalie Holder, it brought a smile to Popp-Hopkins’ face.

“I could not have been happier as a coach with the way the girls played,” she said. “To see that kind of leadership and that kind of will so early in the season was great. They really pushed, despite the fact that we have some bumps and flaws we have to continually work at and improve upon.”

As Marist was surging against Benet in the second and third games, Popp-Hopkins said co-captains Yerkes and Mayo best exemplified her team’s high energy level.

“Carolyn and Molly are definitely counted on for leadership,” she said. “And Carolyn definitely gets the best out of her teammates, and that’s what you want in a team leader. She pushes herself that hard, and it’s infectious. It’s great to have that presence on the court.”

And even through a mere two matches, Popp-Hopkins can already attach many superlatives to the Marist program.

“The whole experience has been awesome,” she said. “It’s a great environment and everything that you’ve heard about. It’s a big family.

“It was the goal, and it’s where I want to be. Marist has been nothing but supportive and excited. There’s a competitive spirit in this program.

And Popp-Hopkins is confident the Lady RedHawks will continue to demonstrate that competitive drive in encounters against Glenbard West and York, the latter of which happens today and is Marist’s home opener.

“The girls are working hard — from the two weeks of camp at the end of July, they’ve given me everything they have,” she said. “We have great senior leadership, which is great because we do have some young blood. They’re hungry to be out there, which is great.

“And we’re playing good teams, which is good because you want to see where you’re at. We’re going to continue to play high-level volleyball.”

MOTHER MCAULEY

The Mighty Macs won four times last week, including three matches at a weekend tournament in Louisville.

First, Mother McAuley dispatched Lockport 25-13, 25-7 last Tuesday. Ryann DeJarld led the way for the Macs with seven kills and four service aces, but McAuley also received solid input from Kelsey Clark (five kills), Caeley Hynes (four), Courtney Joyce (21 assists, four kills, five digs) and Carla Cahill (four aces, nine digs).

The Macs’ conquests in Kentucky included ones over Holy Cross (25-16, 25-16), Eastern (25-12, 25-17) and Ravenswood (25-16, 25-22). DeJarld came through with five kills, three aces and seven digs to help McAuley get past Holy Cross, and she then produced a seven-kill, nine-dig, four-ace stat line opposite Eastern.

Joyce was also a factor in both of those matches with 11 and 18 assists, respectively.

MT. ASSISI

The Screeching Eagles went 1-2 last week, with the win coming at Gordon Tech’s expense last Tuesday. Doling out defeats to Mt. Assisi were Immaculate Conception and Addison Trail.

Anna Broadhurst pounded down eight kills to lead the Eagles (3-4) to their victory in a Girls Catholic Athletic Conference crossover match. Halee Hetzel chipped in two kills and three aces. Kelly Magliano (six kills) and Broadhurst (three) were Mt. Assisi’s notables in its loss to IC.

Magliano (82 kills, 15 blocks), Broadhurst (49 kills, 11 blocks), MaryKate Wetzel (183 assists), Jessica Jakubowski (55 digs) and Shyann Koenig (42 digs) are the Eagles’ season leaders to date.

EVERGREEN PARK

A 25-22, 25-19 win over Crete-Monee last Tuesday salvaged an otherwise disappointing week for the Lady Mustangs, who absorbed setbacks against TF South (25-15, 25-15) and Glenbard South (26-24, 24-16 in the West Aurora Tournament).

Sarah Klawitter (seven kills, 12 digs, seven service points) and Maddie Voijeck (seven kills, eight digs, two aces) keyed for Evergreen Park’s triumph over the Lady Warriors. Klawitter (eight digs) and Voijeck (three kills) also did their part in a losing cause against the Lady Rebels, as did Emma Przeslicke (four kills) and Zoe Monks (six assists).

RICHARDS

The Lady Bulldogs improved their record to 7-1 with a 25-14, 25-16 victory over Bloom Township last Wednesday and a 25-10, 25-15 romp over Hillcrest in Thursday’s South Suburban Conference opener.

Kate Sullivan (eight assists three aces) led Richards past the Lady Blazing Trojans, while Dana Wujcik (six kills) was the Lady Bulldogs’ top gun against the Lady Hawks.

CHICAGO CHRISTIAN

The Lady Knights improved to 7-1 after defeating Oak Lawn (25-19, 25-22) last Wednesday and Illiana Christian (25-17, 25-23) on Friday.

Jessica Krygsheld had seven kills and seven digs versus the Lady Spartans, while Sam Kubik distributed 10 assists for Chicago Christian.

OAK LAWN

One day after falling to Chicago Christian, the Lady Spartans turned the tables and pinned a 25-17, 25-13 loss on TF North in an SSC crossover match.

Alyssa Radoicic had five kills and eight digs for Oak Lawn in its win, while Tara Hill added 14 assists and 10 digs.

QUEEN OF PEACE

The Pride came up short in two hard-fought matches last week: 27-25, 25-21 to Stagg on Tuesday and 23-25, 25-15, 25-11 to Fenwick on Wednesday.

Queen of Peace’s Michelle Frederick had eight kills against the Lady Chargers and 12 kills versus the Lady Friars.

SHEPARD

Chrystal McAlpin (seven kills, seven blocks) and Bri Haugh (13 points, four aces, six kills) helped the Lady Astros (4-5, 1-0) defeat Tinley Park 23-25, 25-16, 25-17 in an SSC crossover encounter last Thursday.

SANDBURG

The Lady Eagles went 2-1 at Friday’s Lyons Quadrangular, beating Lake Forest (25-12, 25-14) and the host Lady Lions (25-19, 25-22) while being narrowly edged by York (21-25, 25-23, 25-23).