Homecoming doesn’t hamper Lady Spartans
Despite seeing his team win nine of its first 12 matches, Oak Lawn coach Dennis McNamara wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his athletes during homecoming week.
Making it a particularly big concern was the fact the Lady Spartans would be pitted against neighborhood and South Suburban Conference Red rival Richards last Tuesday. But while Oak Lawn wasn’t at the top of its game, it still had enough firepower to ward off the Lady Bulldogs and stay firmly in the hunt for first place in the divisional standings.
Sparking the Lady Spartans’ 25-23, 29-27 conquest were the trio of Becky Bradshaw, Simona Tomczak and Christina Egan. Bradshaw recorded 13 kills and five digs, Tomczak delivered nine kills and 10 digs, and Egan passed out 23 assists to help Oak Lawn make it through two tough sets with Richards.
“Being homecoming week, I really didn’t know what mentality we would bring to the match,” McNamara said. “I was hoping that it being our crosstown rival that we would play up to the challenge — and they did.
“Richards played a great match, too. Things went back and forth, but fortunately [for us], we came out at the end of the match on top. We were just hoping to survive the homecoming week and, hopefully, move on to bigger and better things.”
In Game 1, Oak Lawn held a 13-4 advantage before Richard rallied to tie the score at 15-all. The Lady Spartans held an 11-3 lead in the second game when the Lady Bulldogs again fought their way into a tie, then took a 27-26 lead. Just like before, though, Oak Lawn got the final say.
McNamara said Tomczak, Bradshaw and Egan were crucial in making that happen.
“Those three, at times, can really be dominant players and can take over matches,” he said. “When you get all three playing at a high level, it makes the team much better. They all did their part in the match to help us win, and that was a huge factor in the match.”
Shannon Gardner had five kills to pace Richards, while Megan Albon put down four. Brianna LaPapa registered five blocks and Camille Losoya pitched in with 17 digs.
“We put up a good fight against Oak Lawn, so we’re excited for the effort that the girls put forth,” Lady Bulldogs coach Troy Grevengoed said. “We were a couple points shy of where we wanted to be. As a team, we felt that we could realistically go out there and take a win from what is a very well-respected team in our conference. It’s a team that [almost] everyone is chasing on the Red side right now.
“We’re glad the girls went out and battled and proved that we can hang with a team like Oak Lawn. In these next few weeks, we want to prove that we can beat teams like that. With our upcoming [matches] in conference, we’re excited to see where that is going to bring us.”
Last Wednesday, the Lady Spartans improved to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play with a 25-8, 25-18 triumph over Argo in a Volley for a Cure match devoted to cancer research. Egan distributed 17 assists and Bri Markusic had six kills to lead Oak Lawn.
“We played well against Argo,” McNamara said. “We have another ‘Volley for a Cure’ [match] against Tinley Park, so there will be some excitement around the gym as we’re dressed in our pink [uniforms]. Hopefully, we can execute a high level.”
And as the season moves into the second half, McNamara said he’s confident his athletes will take their game to the next level.
“We’re hoping for some good things in the second half of the season,” McNamara said. “We want to keep the focus on our execution and our ability to play the game at a high level. Going out to play and win every night — that’s what we’re going to be working toward.”
Before their neighborhood match against Oak Lawn, the Lady Bulldogs registered a 25-21, 25-22 victory over Mt. Assisi. Kate Sullivan totaled 11 assists and six digs for the hosts, while Gardner put down six kills.
According to Grevengoed, it’s been the play of Sullivan and Gardner that has made a difference for Richards and been highly instrumental in the team’s success thus far.
“Kate Sullivan has been a big leader in different categories,” he said. “She’s done a nice job in service points, aces and assists. She’s very consistent and dependable behind the service line.
“Shannon is our right-side senior and a third-year varsity starter. She threatens teams from the right side, which really opens things up for our outside hitters.”
Grevengoed said he’s especially happy the Lady Bulldogs possess more than one legitimate offensive threat.
“We also have Dana Wujcik and Megan Albon, who give us a lot of kills and keep the blockers honest,” he said. “We really have six hitters who can hit the ball and not just one.”
The Lady RedHawks went 6-1 last week to improve to 12-5 overall and 3-0 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Marist notched league wins over St. Viator and Nazareth Academy, then bagged four victories in five tries at the Rich East Invitational.
The busy week opened on Tuesday with a 25-18, 25-16 vanquishing of the Lady Lions, who were on the receiving end of eight kills from Marie Stifter, seven from Meg Ryan and 18 digs from Carolyn Yerkes. Yerkes (23 digs, two service aces) also came through with a clutch performance versus the Lady Roadrunners two days later, as did Molly Mayo (30 assists, 14 digs), Lizzie Zaleski (14 kills, two aces), Colleen Reilly (11 kills, three blocks) and Cameron Enright (seven kills, 10 digs).
On Friday at Rich East, the Lady RedHawks made a clean sweep of three pool-play matches as they dispatched Downers Grove South (25-17, 25-8), Lincoln-Way East (25-17, 25-18) and Providence Catholic (25-19, 25-23) in succession.
Zaleski (seven kills, two blocks), Yerkes (15 digs, three aces) and Leah Gbur (five kills, two blocks) were Marist’s key figures versus the Lady Mustangs, and Zaleski (18 kills) stepped forward once more in the second match. Also lending a hand toward the defeat of the Lady Griffins were Mayo (33 assists, 11 digs) and Enright (seven kills, seven digs).
Zaleski (seven aces, six kills) and Enright (six kills, eight digs) were standouts again as Marist outlasted the Lady Celtics. Providing support for the duo was Stifter, who totaled seven kills and three blocks.
Wheaton-St. Francis halted the Lady RedHawks’ progress on Saturday by administering a 25-21, 25-20 setback, but Marist recovered quickly and concluded its tourney appearance on a high note by downing Lincoln-Way Central 25-15, 25-13. Turning in strong performances throughout the day were Mayo (50 assists, five aces), Yerkes (34 digs), Zaleski (17 kills) and Enright (nine kills, 11 digs).
The Lady Knights went 1-1 in Suburban Christian Conference action last week, with the success coming on Monday against Immaculate Conception, which dropped a hard-fought three-set verdict by a 25-22, 24-26, 25-19 count.
Emily Workman had a solid all-around game as she finished with 22 assists, 11 digs and eight kills. Anna Kamp (10 kills, seven digs) and Jessica Krygsheld (seven kills, 18 digs) were other Chicago Christian players of note.
The news wasn’t quite so favorable on Wednesday, as Wheaton-St. Francis bagged a 25-20, 25-16 triumph. The Lady Knights built a 17-9 Game 1 advantage, but couldn’t hold it as the Lady Spartans went on a momentum-shifting 16-2 run.
It was Chicago Christian battling back in the second set, as it got as close as 19-15 after once trailing 18-6. However, despite good outings from Leah Kamp (four kills, one block), Krygsheld (three kills) and Samantha Kubik (two kills, two aces, seven assists), the Lady Knights could not push Wheaton-St. Francis into a third game.
Behind Sami Knight’s 16 assists and eight digs, the Lady Eagles defeated Bradley-Bourbonnais 25-16, 25-19 in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover match last Tuesday. Leah Lane added eight kills for Sandburg.
On Thursday, the Lady Eagles improved to 13-4 overall with a 26-24, 25-21 SWSC crossover win over Lincoln-Way Central. Julia Borschel (nine kills) and Lane (seven) led Sandburg along the net, while Kelly McGovern (14 digs), Knight (seven) and Katie Makina (seven) anchored the defense.
Knight also dished out 14 assists and recorded three kills. Equaling the latter statistic were Bridget Lebert and Kathleen Bollito.
The Mighty Macs improved to 12-1 after picking up a pair of victories last week. Mother McAuley topped Regina 25-15, 25-7 in a Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red match on Tuesday and then beat Providence Catholic 25-11, 25-16 on Wednesday.
Courtney Joyce (15 assists) and Carla Cahill (10 kills) led the Macs’ charge versus Regina, while Kelsey Clark (seven kills), Ryan DeJarld (seven kills), Kennedy Arundel (six kills, two aces), Joyce (17 assists, three kills) and Cahill (six digs) all pitched in to the triumph over the Lady Celtics.
The Lady Astros went 2-0 last week and remained undefeated in the SSC Red after beating Reavis (25-17, 25-11) and Eisenhower (25-14, 25-14) on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
Caroline Graham totaled 18 assists for Shepard (15-6, 8-0) against the Lady Rams, while Amanda Carberry chipped in five kills. Chasz Wells provided three kills and three solo blocks to help the Lady Astros upend the Lady Cardinals.
The Screeching Eagles squared their ledger at 12-12 by beating Queen of Peace 25-11, 25-14 in a GCAC Red match last Tuesday. Anna Broadhurst (eight digs, six kills, three blocks and three aces), Kelly Magliano (nine kills) and MaryKate Wetzel (13 assists) were Mt. Assisi’s mainstays.
Magliano (192 kills, 41 blocks), Broadhurst (121 kills, 28 blocks, 140 digs), Wetzel (396 assists), Jessica Jakubowski (166 digs) and Shyann Koenig (136 digs) are the Eagles’ statistical leaders to date.
The Lady Chargers captured a pair of SWSC crossover matches last week to improve to 10-7. Stagg took down Thornton (25-6, 25-12) on Tuesday and Lincoln-Way West (17-25, 25-10, 25-11) two days later.
Allison Stefan’s 16 service points keyed Stagg’s effort versus the Lady Wildcats, while Lexi Mantas (16 kills, 10 points, 10 digs) and Hannah Yandel (21 assists) played starring roles for the Lady Chargers opposite the Lady Warriors.
The Lady Mustangs (6-13) beat Eisenhower 25-18, 25-20 this past Monday as Maddie Vojacek (seven kills), Nicole Larkin (six blocks) and Zoe Monks (12 assists) all played pivotal roles.