Mighty Macs back to Normal
Things are back to normal in the world of Mother McAuley volleyball.
That’s because the Mighty Macs are headed back to Normal this weekend.
McAuley will take aim at the Class 4A championship it missed out on a year ago. The Macs reached the Final Four once again after downing Oak Park-River Forest 25-12, 25-14 last Saturday at the Lyons Township Supersectional.
That victory, which followed sectional conquests of Lincoln-Way North and Sandburg earlier in the week, set McAuley up for a semifinal clash with New Trier Friday at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena.
Macs coach Jen DeJarld said her squad is seeking to take care of some “unfinished business.” The Macs wound up third in the state in 2012.
“The girls played some great volleyball to get to this point,” said DeJarald, whose team has won 38 of 40 matches to date. “A lot of preparation and practice still needs to happen, yet we have to keep the girls healthy for Friday.
“They all know how the season ended last year, and anything less than a state title for us will be considered a disappointment.”
Leading McAuley to its supersectional success versus Oak Park was Courtney Joyce, who produced six kills, 20 assists and six digs. Also playing key roles were Kelsey Clark (six kills), Kaykla Caffey (five kills), Carla Cahill (eight digs), Kennedy Arundel (three kills, two service aces) and Ryann DeJarld (seven digs).
The Macs used a 7-0 run to establish themselves early in the first set, then opened Game 2 with five consecutive points, which eventually grew into an insurmountable 16-4 edge.
While a number of players have performed at a high level during the postseason, Coach DeJarld has been especially pleased with the input from Joyce and Maggie Scanlon.
“Maggie has been exceptional in her role of blocking the outside,” DeJarld said. “It’s a tough job and she has been exceptional. Courtney continues to be an outstanding leader as an offensive weapon. She’s developed more shots and is a huge cog in our offense.”
And even with the Macs seemingly firing on all cylinders, DeJarld knows a total team effort will be required to handle New Trier and vie for the Class 4A title.
“New Trier is strong at the setter position and on the outside,” DeJarld said. “Everyone has taken their game to another level, [but] we have to practice our game play and not take anything for granted. I believe we have the team that can bring home a state championship.”
McAuley’s sectional victories both came in straight sets as well, as Lincoln-Way North fell 25-17, 25-13 last Tuesday and host Sandburg was on the short end of a 25-20, 25-16 final in Thursday’s championship match.
Ryann DeJarld (seven aces, four kills, six digs), Caffey (nine kills), Cahill (12 digs), Scanlon (four kills, nine digs) and Clark (four kills) spearheaded the Macs’ effort against the Lady Phoenix, who were ahead 15-14 in Game 1 before McAuley used a 4-0 run to move in front to stay. The second set featured the Macs going on a 10-0 surge to wipe out an early 5-2 deficit and seize control.
Standouts versus Sandburg included DeJarld (10 kills, seven digs, two blocks), Caffey (six kills, two blocks), Clark (six kills, two blocks), Joyce (26 assists, five kills, nine digs) and Cahill (five digs). Caffey was the difference-maker for McAuley in Game 1, as her four kills and one block helped the Macs rally from a 15-12 deficit.
McAuley’s second-set win was realized after it went on an 8-1 run to extend a slim 13-11 advantage.
“It’s always a battle when you face a rival, especially in the playoffs,” Coach DeJarald said. “Sandburg is always a tough place to play at anyway with 2,000 fans in the stands. We played real well and we stuck to our game plan.
“We knew their outsides and right sides were strong, so we ran a special blocking scheme against them. We ran the middle efficiently. We knew, in the end, we would have to execute our game plan and not be distracted by their game plan.”
Playing well in defeat for the Lady Eagles were Julia Borschel (10 kills), Bridget Lebert (five kills), Sami Knight (19 assists) and Kelly McGovern (12 digs). Borschel and Lebert were key figures in keeping Sandburg close for a long while in Game 2.
To reach the sectional championship match, the Lady Eagles defeated Marist 25-23, 25-18 last Tuesday.
Lebert (nine kills), Leah Lane (seven), Borschel (five), Knight (15 assists, 13 digs) and Kathleen Bollito (14 service points) were Sandburg’s headliners. Lane fueled a late Lady Eagles surge in the first set as her three kills provided the locals with their final points.
Game 2 looked to be all Sandburg after it raced out to a 12-3 lead, but the Lady RedHawks (27-10) narrowed the gap to 19-18 before the Lady Eagles regained their footing and closed out the match.
Colleen Reilly, Lizzie Zaleski and Cameron Enright all had six kills to lead Marist. Also making their presences felt were Molly Mayo (22 assists) and Carolyn Yerkes (18 digs).
After winning their own Class 3A sectional, the Lady Knights fell short of dethroning defending state champ Wheaton-St. Francis in the Joliet Catholic Supersectional on Saturday. For the second year in a row, the Lady Spartans aced Chicago Christian out of a Final Four berth, this time by a 25-10, 25-15 verdict.
The win was St. Francis’ third over the Lady Knights (28-12) this season. Sam Dubiel (15 digs) was the Lady Spartans’ ringleader.
Leah Kamp (five kills), Maggie Cavanaugh (seven digs) and Indiana Wesleyan University-bound Emily Workman (eight assists, one kill, one block) paced Christian. Kamp helped the Lady Knights stay competitive in Game 2 after they never really challenged St. Francis in the opener. The Lady Spartans broke out a to a 15-3 lead in Game 1.
Christian downed Evergreen Park (25-17, 25-22) and Queen of Peace (25-13, 19-25, 25-23) to claim its sectional crown.
The Pride entered the sectional final with a 10-27 ledger, but gave the Lady Knights all they wanted as far as a test. Peace and Christian were tied at 22 in the third set before the latter squeezed out a victory.
Knights coach James Garcia publicly acknowledged the Pride’s solid performance, something that meant a lot to Peace leader Megan Jones.
“Chicago Christian’s AD [Eric Brauer] and coach complimented us on our play and how far we’ve come,” Jones said. “It’s real nice to receive that kind of sportsmanship and respect.
“Unfortunately, one team had to win, [but] I am so proud of the way my girls played. They played outstanding. It was one of those losses that just didn’t feel like a loss.”
That much was evident in Pride athletes’ post-match reaction.
“The girls were high-fiving themselves because they were so proud of the way they played,” Jones said. “As a coach, it’s a match I’ll never forget.”
Michelle Frederick and Sam Stirn put down nine and eight kills, respectively, and the former also had nine digs for Peace. They joined forces to lead the Pride’s comeback from a 16-11 deficit and create the aforementioned 22-all tie.
Also chipping in for Peace were Becka Huerta (13 digs) and Colleen Corbett (11 assists, four aces). Three of Corbett’s serves spurred the Pride in their Game 2 triumph.
“It’s a very nice way to end the season if we were going to lose,” Jones said. “I was so excited for them. It speaks well of where the volleyball program is headed.”
Jessica Krygsheld and Kamp both registered 13 kills for Christian, and the two also combined for 14 digs. Workman supplied 20 assists, nine digs and three kills.
Anna Kamp had a match-high nine kills and Leah Kamp added a balanced five-block, three-kill, two-ace stat line to lift the Lady Knights to their semifinal victory over Evergreen. Krygsheld (four kills) and Workman (seven assists, three kills) were other Christian notables.
Emma Przeslicke (five kills) and Maddie Vojacek (nine digs) topped the Lady Mustangs (13-18), who were knotted at 20 in Game 2 following a kill by Kelly Shine.
QUEEN OF PEACE
To reach the sectional championship match, the Pride defeated Brooks Prep 25-19, 25-21 in one of last Tuesday’s semifinals. Huerta (15 digs, four aces), Stirn (seven kills), Corbett (four kills) and Frederick (six digs, four kills) led the charge for Peace.
Brooks jumped out to an early 7-4 lead in the first game, but Huerta came back a few points later with three consecutive aces in what would be the eventual downfall for the Lady Eagles: serve-receive. The Pride led the second set from start to finish.
For a number of weeks, Peace had been playing volleyball at a level that was far above what one would expect to see from a squad sporting a record well below .500. Winding up just shy of a sectional title with a 10-28 ledger seemed almost unfathomable.
“I was so excited for the girls because they so struggled with the record and played against so many teams that they were outmatched against,” Jones said. “So for us to achieve the postseason success that we did was extremely satisfying.”
Creating even more optimism is the fact that the Pride will lose just three seniors to graduation, which makes the future even brighter.
“We already have girls jumping into club volleyball on a high note and furthering their skills,” Jones said. “Our girls are already moving in the right direction, and I’m very excited about the future of the program.”
The Screeching Eagles’ goal of a sectional championship fell short as they dropped a tough 25-16, 23-25, 25-14 decision to Fieldcrest in the semifinals of the Class 2A El Paso-Gridley Sectional last Tuesday.
Even more painful, according to head coach Karen Van Assen, was that the match was very winnable.
“The girls were disappointed because they didn’t come ready to play,” Van Assen said. “One thing that I talked about to the girls was having no regrets, but regrets do stink. Now, they realize it. They wish they could go back, but they know they can’t.”
MaryKate Wetzel dished out 20 assists and Kelly Magliano had 14 kills to pace Mt. Assisi (19-19).
In spite of the loss, Van Assen expressed satisfaction for her team’s overall play in 2013 and how far the core of seniors had come since breaking into the varsity lineup as sophomores.
“When you look back, this group as sophomore barely won 10 matches,” she said. “They really stepped up this season. They grew a lot and believed in themselves. They did it with a lot of hard work and dedication.
“I preach that because everyone else works hard and is dedicated. One consolation in the loss was that we lost to a contender who is now playing in the state finals. It’s better to lose to a team that advances rather than losing in the next match.”
Anna Broadhurst (183 kills, 51 blocks, 237 digs), Wetzel (622 assists), Magliano (312 kills, 72 blocks) and Jessica Jakubowski (300 digs) were Mt. Assisi’s statistical leaders for the season.