By Phil Brozynski
Immaculate Conception’s Meg Kowieski admitted she had no idea where Serena was. But the Knights’ will find out Thursday when they travel to Serena for the Class 1A sectional.
The four-class volleyball system was made for schools like Immaculate Conception. The Knights have been to Bloomington only twice since their last state title in 1984, fnishing third in 1989 and losing their first match in 1993. Under the old two-class, pre-multiplier format, IC's path was often blocked by its conference rivals.
But with the format change and with Kowieski the only senior on the roster, the Knights could be a contender for the next two years. Immaculate Conception’s leading attacker with nine kills in the regional final Thursday against Hinckley-Big Rock, Danielle Remy, is a junior. So is Mary Kate Manion, who added five kills against Hinckley-Big Rock.
The Knights also have a trio of sophomores who played big roles in the Hinckley-Big Rock match. Setter Abby West had 15 assists and three kills, Maggie Ryan chipped in three kills and Kelly Mulligan came off the bench to serve three aces.
Defensively, junior libero Catherine Guido had 17 digs and junior Mary Cheng added 11 digs.
Another area team with a ton of underclass talent was eliminated from the Class 4A tournament Saturday. But with sophomore Kylee Baker leading the way, Plainfield North will be heard from during the next two years.
Baker had eight kills in the Tigers’ 25-17, 25-22 loss to Naperville Central Saturday at Bolingbrook. Setter Kiersten O’Leary, a junior, had 25 assists. Junior opposite Jessica Guerrieri added four kills and junior middle Arianna Villaruba added two kills.
Plainfield North also hopes to have a healthy Sarah Scott back next year. Scott, a sophomore, was bothered by a back injury and missed most of the second half of the season.
“I would have liked to have had her, but I didn’t want to risk her health,” Plainfield North coach Kerri McCastland said. “This is an important season for her in club. A lot of people will be looking at her.”
McCastland said that the key to Plainfield North’s future is upgrading its schedule and getting invitations to some of the better area tournaments.
“It’s tough when you don’t play at that level (the Napervilles and the Downers) all season,” she said. “But we’re just a two-year-old program. It was guts to the wall (against Naperville Central). As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”