Lady RedHawks wrap up undefeated ESCC season
From the moment she became Marist’s head volleyball coach, Julie Popp-Hopkins had specific goals in mind for her squad in 2013.
The first of those was becoming the undefeated East Suburban Catholic Conference champion, and that goal was reached last Wednesday in Mount Greenwood. There, the Lady RedHawks downed Bishop McNamara 25-10, 25-6 to wrap up a perfect league season.
Bridget Krasowski was a major contributor for Marist (25-9, 9-0) as she served nine aces and put down four kills. Also getting involved in a measurable way were Molly Mayo (11 assists, five digs), Carolyn Yerkes (five digs), Shannon McKevitt (five aces), and Ann Marie Stifter (nine kills).
“It was a great night for the girls,” Popp-Hopkins said. “That was really a great experience for the girls. I’m super-happy for them.
“And it was great that we clinched the conference championship in our last home [match], and on Senior Night. So that was a very special night for the team.”
The previous evening, the Lady RedHawks outlasted host Carmel 25-20, 25-23 in another ESCC clash. Yerkes finished with 23 digs for Marist, Stifter added nine kills, and Cameron Enright totaled eight kills and 14 digs.
The Lady RedHawks’ three indispensable players, among many talented ones, have been Yerkes, Mayo and Lizzie Zaleski. Yerkes has been especially valuable, as evidenced by her getting chosen for the all-tournament team in each of Marist’s four tourney appearances during the campaign.
In addition, Yerkes was tabbed as the ESCC’s Player of the Year. Joining her on the all-conference squad were Mayo, Zaleski and Meg Ryan, while Popp-Hopkins was selected as the ESCC Coach of the Year.
“Carolyn has just surpassed all my expectations,” Popp-Hopkins said. “She’s a leader through and through. She’s our rock, and she brings out the best in all of her teammates. Her accomplishments are pretty impressive.
“She’s really stepped in and taken it. Every day, she gives it 100 percent and then blows us away the next day. She’s had an amazing year.”
Popp-Hopkins also complimented her other two key athletes.
“Molly has done a great job working with my assistant, Jordan Vidovic, who is an insanely talented player and an amazing coach,” she said of Mayo. “They worked really well together, just figuring out what works well for our team and our offense. It’s different than what she’s used to, but she’s really stepped it up and adjusted.
“Lizzie is a right-side lefty, and she can put the ball down. She has a great serve, and we have her playing six rotations right now. She’s someone we can’t take off the court.
“She wants the ball every time. She goes as hard as she can and puts herself into position to get to the ball. She’s really stepped up, too.”
The Lady RedHawks’ next goal is to win the regional they are set to host this week. If Marist got past Oak Forest this past Tuesday, it will play the winner of a Shepard-Lincoln-Way East matchup for the title tonight.
“We focus a lot on just one game at a time,” Popp-Hopkins said. “We want to make sure we focus on Tuesday. I don’t let them focus on the next match until we finish the one we’re competing in.
“Jordan and I plan a lot for those matches, [and] they just look at what’s right in front of them. Then we move on to the next one.”
The Lady Eagles clinched the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue crown in thrilling fashion last Tuesday night, as they held off an equally determined Lincoln-Way East squad 25-23, 24-26, 27-25.
Sandburg, which overcame a 24-21 Game 3 deficit to gain the victory, received a big performance from Leah Lane, who totaled 16 kills. Bridget Lebert added 11, Kelly Finlay put down nine and Julia Borschel chipped in eight. Other contributors included Kelly McGovern (23 digs), Alyssa Kijewski (11 digs) and Sami Knight (38 assists, nine digs).
In that crucial third set, the Lady Eagles used a block by Lane to pull even with the Lady Griffins at 24-all and then sent a long rainbow that Lincoln-Way East was unable to return for a 25-24 lead. With the score tied again at 25, Sandburg sealed the match on back-to-back kills by Finlay.
The Lady Eagles picked up another SWSC Blue victory last Thursday, as they tripped up Homewood-Flossmoor 25-16, 25-21. McGovern had 18 digs and Lebert finished with eight kills to boost visiting Sandburg (28-7, 7-0).
With a 25-12, 25-22 win over Lyons Township last Wednesday, the Mighty Macs closed out their regular season with an undefeated record against Illinois opponents.
Setter Courtney Joyce led the way for Mother McAuley (33-2) with seven kills, six digs and 28 assists. Ryan DeJarld added 12 digs and five kills, Carla Cahill had 12 digs and three aces, Kayla Caffey finished with seven kills and Kelsey Clark supplied six more.
The Macs led Game 1 from start to finish, but the Lady Lions gained an early advantage in the second set and extended it to 13-6 before McAuely mounted a comeback and eventually tied the game up at 21-all.
QUEEN OF PEACE
The Pride gave Class 4A powerhouse Marian Catholic all it could handle in a nonconference match last Monday before coming up short, 25-23, 25-20, in Burbank.
Michelle Frederick had eight kills and seven digs to lead Queen of Peace (7-27), while Samantha Stim chipped in seven kills. Also heard from were Rebecka Huerta (six digs) and Colleen Corbett (10 assists).
The Pride provided a stiffer challenge than expected largely by keeping the Lady Spartans from stringing points together in big bunches. Peace led 22-21 late in the first set before Marian took over with two kills from the left side.
The Pride were ahead 16-15 in Game 2 when the Lady Spartans again rallied for the eventual victory.
The Lady Spartans closed out their regular season with a 20-9 overall record and 12-1 mark in the South Suburban Conference Red after downing Eisenhower 25-19, 25-16 last Tuesday night.
Becky Bradshaw (seven kills, 10 digs) and Tracy Peck (six kills, nine digs) spearheaded Oak Lawn’s victorious performance. The Lady Spartans opened regional play this past Tuesday against Homewood-Flossmoor.
“We saw them in the Lincoln-Way Tournament, but we didn’t play them,” Oak Lawn coach Dennis McNamara said of the Lady Vikings. “We got to see them play and they got to see us play.
“It’s like the NCAA Tournament — you flip a coin, and both teams will be evenly matched at that point, regardless of the seed.”
The Screeching Eagles dropped a 25-20, 25-17 decision to Illiana Christian last Monday night to finish their regular schedule at 17-18. Kelly Magliano had five kills and three blocks in the losing effort.
Magliano (283 kills, 62 blocks) has been a leader for Mt. Assisi all season long, as have Jessica Jakubowski (243 digs), Anna Broadhurst (206 digs, 42 blocks, 158 kills) and MaryKate Wetzel (556 assists).
The Lady Astros went 3-1 last week to improve their regular-season ledger to 19-10. After beating Richards 25-19, 25-22 in an SSC Red match on Tuesday, Shepard took two out of three matches at a weekend tournament.
Caroline Graham doled out 20 assists and Briana Volpentesta tacked on 10 digs to help the Lady Astros top the Lady Bulldogs. The win was Shepard’s 10th in 13 conference encounters.
On Saturday, Lake Zurich defeated the Lady Astros 25-23, 25-19 before the latter bounced back to upend Palatine (25-17, 25-17) and Minooka (17-25, 25-19, 15-12).
The Lady Chargers split a pair three-game SWSC Blue matches last week, as they beat Joliet West (19-25, 25-18, 30-28) on Thursday, two days after suffering a 19-25, 25-14, 25-15 setback against Lockport.
Lexi Mantas and Gianna Petrelli were key figures for Stagg (15-20, 2-5) in both outings. Mantas registered 12 kills and Petrelli distributed 15 assists versus the Lady Porters, then produced more solid numbers against the Lady Tigers. Mantas totaled 18 kills and 13 digs, the latter being just five less than Petrelli’s team-high effort.
Also lending a hand in the win was Hannah Henderson, who provided the Lady Chargers with nine points and 12 digs.
The Lady Mustangs improved to 10-17 with a hard-fought 18-25, 25-19, 27-25 victory over Rich South last Monday night.
Emma Przeslicke posted nine kills and Sarah Klawitter chalked up 13 digs to guide the victorious hosts.
The Lady Knights dropped a three-game match to Immaculate Conception last Monday and a two-game verdict to Wheaton-St. Francis last Wednesday to finish the regular season at 24-11.