By Phil Brozynski
Benet and Downers Grove South will be heard from again.
Benet walked a tightrope in front of a packed house November 1 in the first of two Class 4A sectional semifinals at Naperville North. But the fourth-seeded Redwings held on behind Natalie Patzin (14 kills) and Jessica Jendryk (nine kills, two blocks) to upset the top-seeded hosts 27-25, 15-25, 25-23.
Despite the win, the match didn’t exactly go the way Benet coach Brad Baker had planned.
“I thought we made too many service errors with Ward (Naperville North’s Colleen) in the back row,” he said. “We told the girls we had to score points with her in the back row. When you let her get in the front, she’s dangerous.”
Ward finished her stellar high school career with 23 kills and had more than 1,500 kills in her career.
“Benet started to pick it up at the end,” said Naperville North coach Jennifer Urban, whose team led 19-17 in the third game before four errors ignited a 7-2 Benet run.
Benet (35-3) waited more than an hour-and-a-half to play Naperville Central, whose match with Downers Grove South match started 52 minutes late. The layoff hurt the Redwings, who only briefly regained the form they demonstrated in the semifinal.
“After a win like that, you just want to go out and play again,” Baker said. “You don’t want it to stop.”
Benet may not be stopped next year. Among the returnees are Patzin, Jendryk, 5-9 outside Ariana Mankus, 6-0 sophomore Gina Finke, 6-0 middle Val Mattaliano, setter Beth Kinsella, libero Paige Vargas and sophomore defensive specialist Brianne Riley.
Downers Grove South is another team that will be reckoned with in 2008. Outside Emily Toth and setter Katie Crawford were the only seniors on the roster
Returnees will include Courtney and Katherine Gosewisch, setter Colleen Dobry, outside Christine Bowe, middles Mo Oestermeyer and Jessica McNellis, and Kelsey Safranek, whose switch from middle to right side ignited a late Downers South run.
“We knew coming in that Naperville Central was a great team,” coach Colleen Reagan said. “We had to play our best, play our hardest, and whatever happened, happened.”
“Our No. 1 goal next year will be to finish,” Reagan added.