By Pat Brozynski

Sandburg loses focus, finds things to work on

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benet.jpg

Benet won the Wheaton Classic tournament Saturday, defeating Hinsdale South behind tournament MVP Jenna Jendryk and all-tournament selection Meghan Haggerty.


Think Sandburg was fixating on Marist well before their meeting Saturday at the Wheaton Classic?

"We were pumped for that match from Wednesday (after both teams won their pools) to Saturday," Sandburg coach David Vales said. "Marist is a hometown rival, they're the ones we get to see all the time, a lot of the girls play each other in club.

"We had three days to look forward to Marist," he said.

After stunning Marist 25-20, 25-21 in the Gold division quarterfinals, whatever focus Sandburg had went right out the proverbial window prior to their meeting with Hinsdale South in the semifinals.

"Once that thing happens and you win it, I think the girls lost focus," Vales said. "Hinsdale South was ready to play. They didn't have that kind of match to open up. I'm a little disappointed in the way we played."

One player did show up for Sandburg against Hinsdale South...6-foot-1 junior outside Dakota Hampton.

"Dakota put on a show to try to win this thing because she knew how important it was," Vales said. "She knows a lot of those girls from club. It was a big match for her. It was a little too late for the rest of the team.

"But Hinsdale South was unbelievable," he added. "They just went power outside and we couldn't slow them down. They looked good and they stayed energized, and even when they were down 18-13 in the second game."

Sandburg lost some steam at that point when Hampton went to the backrow.

"At that point, our serve-receive broke down and we couldn't get anything going again," Vales said. "Hinsdale South showed us some things we're still weak on, and we have plenty of time to still work on. That's why we like this tournament, we learn a lot from it."

***

Hinsdale Central suffered a big blow when 6-foot-2 setter/outside hitter Meghan McDowell was likely lost for the season with torn ligaments in her ankle.

But the Red Devils have turned to 5-foot-7 senior Ellie VanKeirsbilck and played well over the weekend while reaching the Gold division semifinals at the Wheaton Classic.

"We have been playing well lately," Hinsdale Central coach Sheralynn Kellough said. "The nice part is Ellie ran a 5-1 all last season, so it's not like she's brand new to that position. She's doing a great job, she's a competitor and she's deceptively better than most people think she is because of her size.

"Of course, she's not 6-2 6-3 or a lefty or any of that sort of thing," Kellough added with a laugh. "But she gets stuff done. Two or three weeks from now, she could be 6-2, or 6-3. We're stretching her every day."

***

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Wheaton tournament, and the young season, is Jennifer Urban's Naperville North Huskies.

The Huskies' week included wins against previously unbeaten West Chicago in DuPage Valley Conference play, a pool win over higher-seeded Evanston at the Wheaton tournament, and a victory over Rosary in the Gold division consolation semifinals.

The Huskies' losses? Unbeaten Huntley at the Plainfield North tournament, and once-beaten Benet and once-beaten Marist at Wheaton.

"Right now we've had one practice with our entire roster," Urban said Saturday after a quarterfinal loss to Benet at Wheaton. "We are just looking for continuing to practice and getting better in the gym, and translate that over to our matches."

Naperville North's setter, 5-6 senior Christine Wu, injured her ankle two days before the team's first match and only returned this week. The Huskies also feature only three other seniors - outside Ashley Crawford, middle Madison Murphy and outside Sam Scroggins.

None of the seniors, nor any of the other players on the team, have made college commitments.

"We don't have a lot of superstars on our team," Urban said. "We've got a lot of solid volleyball players. Finding that team chemistry on the court has kept us in a lot of matches. The girls are playing well together and working together."

***

Think previously unbeaten Marist was ready to have the boom lowered on it when it faced Sandburg in the Wheaton quarterfinals Saturday?

"The bottom line is Sandburg played an excellent match," Marist coach Natalie Holder said. "Sandburg came out they executed. We scouted them before, but give them credit. They didn't look anything like they looked when we saw them play.

"But like I told our girls, it doesn't matter. Every day is a new day. There are things on our side of the net we need to take care of. Sandburg did a real good job. They played well, they executed and they did it when it counted."

Marist was down two big bodies against Sandburg (6-2 rightside Elyse Panick injured an ankle in warmups prior to Marist's match against Mother McAuley earlier in the week) and like every other team that faced Sandburg had trouble containing 6-1 Dakota Hampton.

"Our goal was never to be undefeated in the regular season," Holder said. "Our goal is to be undefeated in the playoffs, and that's why we're in this tournament and that's why were playing great teams and Sandburg's a real great team."

Holder also downplayed the neighborhood rivalry aspect.

"I guess I don't think of them as south side," she said. "I think of them as suburban because they're out in Orland. But it doesn't matter whether they're from the south side or they're from Topeka. It doesn't matter. They showed up and we didn't."

***

A few fans had to be taken aback during the introductions prior to York's match with Lyons in LaGrange last week. The starting libero was 6-1 sophomore outside hitter Amy Nosek

Talk about being throw to the Lions.

"She was my starting outside hitter before the year started, but she got hurt and she's not quite ready to hit," York coach Patty Iverson said. "She has been back not even a week and by having her at libero I'm working her back in.

"Is she my best ballhandler?" Iverson added. "No. Is she my best passer? No. But I want her to be a good ballhandler and I want to have at least three people interchangeable so if one has an off game I can put her at libero and the other two can hit."

Although just a sophomore, Nosek does not get rattled even when her game is off, Iverson said.

"She's unflappable," the coach said. "If she doesn't play well, she doesn't play well. She doesn't get all worked up and she basically gives her best no matter what. So it was a no-brainer."

You cannot argue with success. York won the rematch in LaGrange and then defeated Lyons for a second time in four days Saturday in the finals of the McAuley Preview.

***
St. Charles North players are learning there is more to being a student-athlete and a member of the community than just playing volleyball.

Recently, team members participated in a team building activity at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. The team created bears that are being donated to the pediatric unit at Sherman Hospital.

The girls also recently spent some time visiting and volunteering at the Marklund Home, the Geneva facility for adults with special needs. These special guests were honored at St. Charles North's game against Streamwood.

Kudos to St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins and her players for giving back to the community.

***
Right place, right time?

Saturday at the Wheaton Classic, Benet won the Gold Division, Libertyville won the Silver division and Waubonsie Valley won the Bronze division.

So what's so odd about that?

They all emerged from the same pool.

Benet, Libertyville and Waubonsie Valley were grouped together in Pool A played Wednesday at Wheaton North. Benet won the pool, defeating Waubonsie Valley 25-7, 25-14 and Libertyville 25-15, 25-18. Libertyville finished second, defeating Waubonsie 25-21, 25-20.

Saturday, all three teams went 3-0. Benet won the overall title by defeating Hinsdale South 25-16, 25-22, Libertyville outlasted St. Charles North 25-20, 26-28, 25-19 to win silver, and Waubonsie Valley survived Downers Grove North 25-16, 32-30 to win the bronze division.

Libertyville, led by Michigan recruit Cindy Zhou, a 6-foot junior setter, was making its first appearance in the tournament and hopes it made an impression on the rest of the coaches. The Wildcats will be a factor in the title hunt next year with four juniors starting in 2011.

In addition to Zhou, coach Greg Loika will welcome back libero Kristen Webb and outside hitters Taylor Zant and Julia Smagatz next fall.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on September 18, 2011 2:12 AM.

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