By Pat Brozynski

The kids can play at Benet, York

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You can't blame anyone on the Benet roster for looking over her shoulder. They know that if they don't get it done, there is someone else who will.

"Our depth is our strength," said Benet coach Brad Baker, who watched his team defeat visiting York 25-19, 25-20 Wednesday behind 6-foot-2 sophomore middle Meghan Haggerty (seven kills, two blocks), senior Gina Finke (six kills) and junior Lara Ontko (six kills).

"They know that if they struggle, there is someone else ready to go," he said.

Baker ran nine players in and out of Wednesday's match. There were times you could not tell who was coming or going. There were also times (no thanks to Benet's dark uniforms and darker numbers) it was difficult to tell who was setting and who was hitting.

But that confusion is part of Baker's plan.

"We don't want our opponents to know where the ball is going," he said. "Last year, it was going to go to Ari (Mankus), Natalie (Patzin) or Jess (Jendryk). This year, our goal is for our opponents not to know where the ball is going to be set."

Eight different players registered kills for Benet (2-0) against York. At least three were credited with an assist. Junior Ashley Veselik led the way with 16 assists and senior libero Brianne Riley, who recently committed to Kansas, had eight digs. Ontko, who had six kills, was rarely mentioned by Baker before the season.

"You can only talk about so many kids," he said. "Nobody would believe you if you said you had six kids who can pound the ball until you see it for yourself."

Benet will be on display again this weekend at Willowbrook when the Redwings face Hinsdale Central and Wheaton Warrenville South.

Meanwhile, the road doesn't get any easier for York. On the heels of back-to-back losses to Glenbrook South and Benet, the Dukes continue their "Top 10 Tour" Friday at Lyons where they will play the host Lions, Sandburg and Lake Forest.

"We won't know what to do with ourselves after this weekend," said York coach Patty Iverson, alluding to a schedule that can't get any more difficult.

Iverson said that part of her team's struggles Wednesday can be attributed to doubt that invariably creeps into the mind of a young hitter when the opponent turns up the pressure.

"Instead of hitting the ball, they were just making shots," she said. "They started doubting themselves."

Wednesday's match was not without its bright spots, however.

Five-foot-6 sophomore Caroline Rose dominated a stretch of the first set to give the Dukes a 9-4 lead, and York trimmed a 18-13 deficit to 20-18 in the second set. Sophomore Morgan Semmelhack and junior Claire Grabinski also were bigger factors in the second set.

"We did some good things," Iverson said. "There were times we had four sophomores on the floor at the same time. We're still playing with our lineup. We'll get there."

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on September 2, 2009 10:42 PM.

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