Juhas, Elk Grove settle into winning pattern
Eight bounces and a spin.
That's the routine Elk Grove senior Christine Juhas goes through before every serve.
It was a routine Maine West would have preferred to have seen a little less of Monday night.
Juhas scored her team's first and last points with aces in the nonconference match and in between helped "set" up the win with 9 assists as the host Grenadiers opened their girls volleyball season with a 25-18, 25-22 victory.
"Wonderful," said Grens coach Stephanie Kezios to describe Juhas' 10-of-11 serving which included a match-high 4 aces and a consecutive streak of 7 straight points to give her team a 7-2 lead in Set 1. "It was so impressive. We have a challenge for the girls to see if they can serve consecutive points, and Christine lived up to that."
Senior Diamond Boyd lived up to her all-area status of a year ago by putting down a match-high 8 kills and 4 blocks for the hosts while classmate Becca Siwicki added 4 kills and junior Taylor Socha 3. Socha also had 2 aces and senior Martyna Sopalski contributed 3 blocks.
Junior Kerry Souder shared setting duties with Juhas, handing out 6 assists while junior Kelsey Conley helped spark the back row with 12 digs.
"You've got to mix it (setting the hitters) because we have so many strong hitters," Juhas said. "I believe in all of them and I just try to be aware of what's going on the other side of the net when I look for a hitter."
West's serve receivers had to be aware when Juhas was serving.
"It's one of the strong parts of my game but I wish my serve was stronger," Juhas said. "I'm just consistent and my routine helps me with that. When I was serving in camp years ago, an instructor said I had to get a routine. So I bounced the ball eight times, because that's my lucky number, and then I gave it spin."
Her jersey, No. 26, even adds up to 8.
"I've been perfecting my skills in serving each summer I've played," said Juhas, a Sky High club player who began playing the sport in fifth grade. "And when I got to high school, my coaches (Kezios and her assistant Dan Windholz) have helped me with that."
After an ace by junior setter Kassidy Riportella led to a 2-0 lead for West, Juhas helped the Grens back into the match with her 7 straight service points, including aces for the sixth and seventh points.
Maine West (0-2) got to within 12-10 with back-to-back aces by all-area softball pitcher Ariel Valles but the Grens were able to pull away again. They put the set away on 2 service points by Socha, including a kill by Boyd which made it 24-18.
Set 2 was tight all the way as the teams exchanged leads but the hosts took over for good at 22-21 on a kill by Siwicki.
An ace by Conley made it 23-21. Siwicki's kill got the Grens to match point (24-22) before Juhas ended it with her fourth ace.
"Our goal was to come out strong offensively," Kezios said. "We wanted to try and run our offense quicker and I'm excited after what I saw in our first match. We've been scrimmaging our junior varsity a lot so the girls were really ready to play another team."
Maddie Plantz led West with 4 kills while Valles, Ashley Collins and Brittany Collins each had 2.
"We served more aggressively than our first match (a loss to Niles West on Aug. 23) and we picked up our block," said Warriors coach Randy Tiller. "We are improving and I hope we are even better in three days (New Trier Invite). We have height. We just have to improve with our blocking technique."
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