Two sisters on one team is hardly unheard of to West Chicago coach Kris Hasty.
"I don't think I've had that before," said Hasty, now in her 19th year. "It's a new experience."
It seems to be working like a charm.
West Chicago, with recently called up freshman Ronni Katarzynski joining sisters Mary Kate (a junior) and Kayla (a senior) on the varsity Wildcats, bounced back from a three-match losing streak to win the Bartlett Invite over the weekend.
West Chicago (10-3) was running a 5-1 formation with Mary Kate Katarzynski setting six rotations. To give her team a boost offensively, Hasty inserted Ronni Katarzynski at setter for three rotations allowing Mary Kate to hit.
"It worked to our benefit," Hasty said. "We wanted to try it against Wheaton North on Thursday, but it was too up-tempo of a match and not the time to work out the kinks. We worked some things out over the weekend and played pretty well."
Ronni Katarzynski plays libero for her Sports Performance 14 Blue club team, but Hasty complimented her freshman's poise in her varsity debut. Mary Kate does swing outside in club.
"It adds a different dimension to our offense," Hasty said. "Mary Kate, she has a pretty good swing."
The three girls are the middle of five daughters. Older sister Theresa, a sophomore at Missouri, played at St. Francis. Kayla this summer played on the Sky High 17 Red AAU gold medal championship team and their dad, Ron, coaches club at Sports Performance.
Hasty noted that the sisters "kind of look alike but are different.
"Each one has their own personality. Bottom line, they're very supportive of each other," Hasty said. "Not sure how it is on the court between the three of them, but so far it seems to be working."
Spartans find they're beatable:
St. Francis learned two things over the weekend in Effingham: 1. The Spartans are not invincible. 2. Volleyball south of Route 80 is no pushover.
The top-ranked Spartans, seeded first at the Crossroads Classic in Effingham, lost their first match of the season, 14-25, 25-11, 25-21 to Champaign Centennial in the semifinals. St. Francis, now 10-1, did bounce back to beat Normal U-High 25-14, 24-26, 25-20 for third place. Maddie Haggerty and McKenna Kelsay both were named all-tournament, with Sam Dubiel also getting notes.
"They believe that they can be beat now, which is good," Spartans coach Peg Kopec said. "We showed that we have some heart, coming back a couple times. But it also became apparent that we need to work on some things."
The 24-team Effingham tournament featured teams from Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri in addition to Illinois.
Champaign Centennial features five girls standing 6 feet or taller. Count Kopec as impressed, although she did think they were more beatable than the Breese Mater Dei team that won Class 3A last year.
"I will tell you that southern Illinois teams get overlooked," Kopec said. "They're the real deal."
From the frying pan into the fire this week, as St. Francis is at Marian Central Wednesday and Mother McAuley Thursday after hosting Rosary Monday.
Busy week for Redhawks:
You could forgive Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson and her girls if they slept through the Bears game Sunday.
They had quite a long weekend.
The Redhawks (6-2) played at West Aurora in a big DuPage Valley Conference match Thursday night, then made the four-hour trek Friday to Effingham for the Crossroads Classic. Because of a leaky roof, the Redhawks didn't get out of the gym until 10:30 p.m. Friday night -- then had to turn around and get back at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Naperville Central ended up 4-1 in Effingham, beating Edwardsville 25-15, 25-22 for fifth place after a loss to Normal U-High in the quarterfinals. Alysia Baznik was named all-tournament, and Isaacson noted that Sammy Condon and setter Abbi Williamson also had strong weekends.
"It was crazy, but it was great," Isaacson said. "I'm pleased with the overall direction of the team."
Benet aims to continue Wheaton success:
Benet, off to a 9-0 start, looks to keep it going this weekend at the Wheaton Classic.
History is on the Redwings' side.
Benet has won the 24-team tournament at Wheaton Warrenville South three of the four years it went there, including 2008, 2009 and 2011. The Redwings are seeded second this year. Marist, the 2010 Wheaton Classic champion, is the No. 1 seed with Sandburg No. 3. The deep field also includes Hinsdale South, Naperville Central and Naperville North
"That's why we are in these tournaments," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "We want to play great teams and hopefully improve."
Benet will take a 29-match winning streak into the weekend. The last team to beat the Redwings? Yes, Marist, which is the favorite in Class 4A this year.
Haggerty nets Big Ten honor:
Ex-Benet star Meghan Haggerty, now a freshman middle blocker at Nebraska, was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday. Haggerty hit .545 against UC Irvine, recording 7 kills to go with 4 blocks in the Huskers' victory. The week prior, York graduate Katie Gallagher -- now a freshman setter at Indiana -- was honored by the Big Ten.
Carlini is the No. 1:
West Aurora's Lauren Carlini, a 6-foot-2 senior setter committed to Wisconsin, was recently named the No. 1 recruit in the nation according to PrepVolleyball.com. Carlini leads the list of Senior Aces, the top 250 recruits in the nation as surveyed by nearly 100 college coaches. Also making the list at No. 41 is Hinsdale Central senior Meghan McDowell, headed to Virginia.
Panthers on the prowl:
A nice early-season story is that of 7-1 Glenbard North. The Panthers beat WW South en route to taking third at the Willowbrook Invite and beat West Chicago in its DuPage Valley Conference opener.
Panthers coach Jeremy Bradley lauded the work setters Stephanie Orze and Angela Revanessi have done distributing the ball. He called outsides Destini Wade and Stephanie Tobison mentally tough and gifted physically. More than anything, though, it is the team chemistry.
"We're not settling to just be in games," Bradley said. "We're playing to win."
That will be put to the test this week, with a match tonight at West Aurora and Thursday vs. Naperville Central in Carol Stream.
"Years past the bus ride to some of those schools took longer than the match," Bradley said. "I don't want to see that, especially with the start to the season we've had. I'm happy with where we're at but, that still doesn't change the fact that I want to compete."