Schaumburg girls volleyball coach Jeanette Pancratz had no problem pinpointing the highlight of her team's 25-20, 25-22 victory at Hoffman Estates on Thursday night.
"We had a strong serving match," she said. "That definitely was a big part of the offense."
And there was one Saxon in particular who served up a nifty run in Set 2 which helped the defending Mid-Suburban League West champions gain some breathing room.
With the set tied 14-14, Schaumburg all-area senior Bria Hailey reeled off 6 straight points to give her team a 20-15 advantage. All 4 of her aces came in the rally.
"I really like serving," said Hailey, who was the Saxons' top blocker in 2010. "I like to go up there (service line), take a deep breath, focus and help my team. I am really dedicated to my teammates."
Hoffman (1-5) rallied to within 20-18 on 3 service points from senior Becky Knapik.
Back-to-back kills by Meghan Falsey (11 setting assists) put the Saxons back on top 24-19.
"It's good to see Meghan Falsey (6 kills) getting some strong swings at the ball," Pancratz said.
Hoffman got to within 24-23 on 3 service points by Sydney Johnson, including an ace, before Schaumburg won it on an hitting error.
"I'm really proud of how we fought to the end," said Knapik, whose block tied Set 2 at 13-13. "We gave it our all, even though we lost. We needed to play as little more as a team at the beginning of the match."
Schaumburg's biggest lead in Set 1 came at 23-16 on an attack by senior Kelly Koutnik, who led the Saxons with 7 kills.
Hoffman rallied to within 23-19 before the Saxons eventually notched the win on a tip by Allison McGinn off a Hoffman block, giving the Saxons their second win without a loss.
Sam Mellert (13-of-13 serving, 2 aces) added 10 setting assists for Schaumburg, while sophomore Kiana Lewis put down 6 kills and served 2 aces.
"It's a very good start," said Hailey, who also had 4 kills and 2 blocks. "We played with a lot of intensity and energy. The crowd was so into it. We've got so much raw energy that helps us pull it out at the end."
Becca Stoczynski led the Hawks with 6 kills. She and teammate Karina Zopl each had 8 digs while Ali Engelhardt collected 3 blocks. Destinée Young was 8-of-8 serving with an ace.
"We're just struggling with giving up big runs," said Hawks coach Dan Hutton. "That's been a little problem all season. We've shown we can compete with anyone. We've got a lot of inexperience and it's just a matter of finding the chemistry."
Palatine d. Fremd: Amanda Hilmer (10 kills). Heather Suiter (3) and Val Soderstrom (2) led the attack for Palatine in a 25-23, 22-25, 25-22 MSL West triumph.
Setter Laura Kluk (4 aces) handed out 23 assists while Casey Dolen produced a team-high 13 digs for the winners (2-0, 1-0).
Prospect d. Wheeling: Prospect (2-1, 1-0) earned a 25-21, 22-25, 25-17 MSL East triumph as Sage Rebecca (8 kills), Colleen Chuipek (7) and Maura Benson (3) led the attack, set by senior Shea Gallus (20 assists).
Gallus (5 aces) set a 5-1 offense for the first time on varsity as Danielle Siwik sat out with illness.
Kellie Kuzmanic and Sydney Keith each had 6 kills to lead Wheeling (0-3, 0-1).
Buffalo Grove d Elk Grove: Pagie Smith (9 kills), Alaina Murphy (5) Bailey North (5) and Mary Zawlocki (2) led Buffalo Grove in a 25-22, 25-12 MSL East triumph.
Victoria Ito led the Bison (3-5, 1-0) with 9 digs and was 3-of-3 serving with an ace. Murphy added 3 aces and North 2. Kathy Hampton handed out 13 assists for the winners while Mary Guth had 5 against the Grens (1-2, 0-1).
Barrington d. Conant: Barrington posted a 25-15, 25-15 MSL West victory, improving to 4-0 and 1-0.
Julia Thompson (7 kills), Lauren Shectman (6) and Peyton Lang (5) led the Fillies offense while Lauren Dunseith handed out 15 assists.
Olivia Szuszkiewicz (match-high 10 digs) and Lang (8 digs) each had 2 aces for the winners. Teammate Emily Casaletto collected 8 digs.
Conant (1-2, 0-1) was led by Jenn O'Donnell's 4 kills and Rachael's Yordon's 8 digs. Teammate Morgan Peterson served an ace.
Hersey d. Rolling Meadows: Kristen Pedersen (8 kills) Kelsey Haas (6) and Maggie Hogen (4) led the Hersey attack in a 25-20, 25-21 MSL East win.
Setter Abby Fesl handed out 18 assists while Taylor Schill led the back row with 15 digs. Haas also had 3 blocks for the three-time defending MSL champs (3-0, 2-0).
"Rolling Meadows is much improved," said Huskies coach Nancy Lill. "They are tall and block really well. I thought they had a lot of fight in them."
St. Viator d. Regina: Lauren Falotico had 10 kills and Evelina Wozniak added 5 as St. Viator (5-3) won the nonconference match 25-13, 22-25, 25-13. Emily Williams handed out 19 assists.
Christian Liberty d. Luther North: The Chargers received 7 kills from Carly Baric and 4 from Beth Cunningham in a 25-14 20-25 25-17 victory. Teammate Karla Laskowski collected 8 serving points in row.