By Phil Brozynski
Sometimes shorter is better.
Just ask Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe, whose smaller lineup provided huge benefits at the Mizuno St. Charles East Scholastic Cup on Saturday.
Scheibe employed 5-foot-8 junior Katie Hickey as a middle hitter in victories over Incarnate Word (Mo.) and Wheaton Warrenville South after a taller lineup failed to stop Naperville North in a 25-15, 19-25, 25-6 quarterfinal loss.
“We did not step up to play that first match,” Scheibe said. “I thought the other lineup would give us more height, but it just wasn’t gelling. For some reason, the shorter lineup gelled. It’s all about chemistry, I guess.”
Joliet Catholic’s loss to Naperville North was its first against an in-state opponent this season.
“We lost to a quality team,” Scheibe said. “We’re being competitive. We haven’t lost a match in two games yet.”
Rosary would welcome the opportunity to see Belleville Althoff again. That would mean that the Royals have reached the Class 3A semifinals in Bloomington. Althoff is the top seed at Jerseyville, while Rosary is seeded second behind St. Francis at Riverside-Brookfield.
Althoff (22-7) defeated Rosary 25-18, 20-25, 15-12 in Friday’s pool play at the Mizuno Cup. The Royals (22-5) finished 4-1 in the tournament, defeating St. Charles East 25-19, 25-20 to win the Silver bracket
“We just made too many mistakes against Althoff,” Rosary coach Lisa Kasper said. “But I’m pleased with the way we came back and won all three of our matches (Saturday) against some fairly good teams.
“We just need to clean up our errors and take control of games, like we did (Saturday),” she added.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament was Neuqua Valley, one of the more schizophrenic teams in the Chicago area.
The Wildcats finished 1-1 in pool play Friday, losing to Barrington (10-18) 21-25, 25-16, 16-14. But they reached Saturday’s Gold bracket on a tiebreaker, where they surprised Wheaton Warrenville South 25-22, 27-29, 25-17 in the quarterfinals.
Neuqua Valley (19-8) has now beaten the top two teams in the DuPage Valley Conference – Naperville North and WW South.