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updated: 10/28/2011 12:54 AM

Haggerty sisters big reason Benet intimidates foes

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Maddie Haggerty hears the whispers, even if the notion seems a little silly to a high school sophomore.

"I've heard that I look intimidating," shrugged the 6-foot Benet outside hitter, "even if I don't try to be. I guess we can be intimidating."

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"We" is Maddie and older sister Meghan, Benet's 6-3 senior middle.

Intimidating might not seem a fitting description for a couple high school girls, but put yourself in the sneakers of a petite 17-year-old passing by the two rock-solid Haggerty sisters at a weekend tournament.

Then take the court and attempt to defend the rockets they launch your way.

"I guess if I wasn't 6-3 and was looking up at Maddie," Meghan offered, "I would be pretty scared."

The Haggerty girls are two big reasons why No. 1 Benet could be playing for its first state volleyball championship in two weeks. Meghan is one of the top seniors in the country, committed to Wisconsin. Maddie at times could be mistaken for a college freshman instead of a high school sophomore.

Height and athletic ability seem to be as much a part of the family business as the Chevrolet cars dad Jerry sells at his Glen Ellyn dealership.

The girls' mom stands 5-11, and 6-9 older brother Ryan plays basketball collegiately at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

And here's an unappetizing thought for Benet opponents to chew on: eighth-grader Molly, a 5-11 setter/right-side hitter, might be the best of the volleyball bunch.

"Molly started playing the youngest of us three," Meghan said. "She's a setter who can hit and play defense. A triple threat."

This season has been a fresh experience for Meghan and Maddie. Both have played volleyball for years but never together on the same team. Maddie considers her older sister a role model and says their chemistry has picked up as the season progresses.

"Off the court I feel I can talk to her about anything," Maddie said. "We have got a lot closer."

At the beginning of the season, Meghan said, Maddie felt more like a sister on the court. Now they are teammates between the lines, pure and simple.

In fact before every match or practice they remind each other that there is nothing personal about the words they exchange on the court.

"They trust each other, they have that sisterly bond that helps them with that trust," Benet coach Brad Baker said, "and when they are on the court they are all business. You do not see any sisterly rivalry."

Baker must consider himself lucky to have a fairly bicker-free group of girls, and that certainly extends to the sisters.

"I'm sure that when they are at home they argue about borrowing each other's clothes or whatever," Baker said, "but dealing with volleyball they are extremely low-drama girls. I don't hear or see them getting involved with a whole lot of gossip. They are motivated to get better. When it's time to play ball they are ready to go."

They sure spend enough time together on the court.

Every Sunday Meghan, Maddie and Molly go to Aurora's Great Lakes Center for an hour and a half to lift weights, pass and hit.

Every night Meghan and Maddie drive home from school together, no doubt going over the highs and lows of a practice or match.

"Of course we're going to disagree," Maddie said, "but because we're sisters we can give each other criticism and we don't take it the wrong way. It's cool that we can have open conversations and we respect each other."

Time is running short together, at least as teammates.

Next year Meghan will be a freshman at Wisconsin, and when asked if Maddie could join her in Madison in a couple years replied, "I don't think that's going to happen." The two want to make their own name for themselves in college and hope to play against each other some day at rival Big Ten schools.

For now the focus is on making a name for themselves together at Benet.

"It would definitely make it more special, winning a state championship together," Meghan said. "For her to experience this season with me, it's really cool."

jwelge@dailyherald.com

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