She's clearly a rising star. And with Stevenson senior Rachel Baader sidelined this season (knee), it's the perfect time for junior Khalia Donaldson to step up.
Donaldson led all hitters with 8 kills on Wednesday night as Stevenson (12-1) stopped visiting Palatine 25-22, 25-16 in a nonconference match at home.
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"With the injury to Rachel it's been fantastic to see the growth in her (Donaldson) all-around game,'' said Stevenson coach Tim Crow. "And she's only a junior. She played a little bit last year."
In addition to her power hitting, this junior brings in school spirit as well.
"I really wanted this game," Donaldson said. "I want Stevenson to reign."
For the visiting Pirates (8-3) mistakes hurt them early. However, the Pirates rallied back from a 9-3 deficit in the first set.
"We made some errors," said Palatine coach Dan Gavin. "And I wouldn't say it was one of our best matches. But we didn't quit."
The serving of Jenna Radtke (5 kills, 4 aces) put the Pats up early. But the Pirates fought back behind the blocking of 6-foot-3 Taylor Fricano and
teammate Val Soderstrom. Palatine had cut the Pats lead to 18-15 but then Donaldson registered a kill.
As Donaldson explained it, she started playing volleyball in eighth grade.
"I tried other sports but didn't like them,'' she said. "I like volleyball and how you battle for every point."
It was a Donaldson kill with Liza Pflugradt serving that ended set one.
Palatine actually jumped out early in the second set. With Hannah Bridier serving the Pirates took advantage of some Stevenson mistakes to open a 4-0 lead. This time it was Donaldson answering back for the Pats from the serving line. She got help at the net from both Radtke and Anne Geocaris. It was an all-around good night for Geocaris, who registered 10 assists and was also asked to the homecoming dance.
Stevenson took control of set two behind Radtke's serving and the hitting of Donaldson.
"They are outstanding," Gavin said. "Stevenson is one of the best teams we've seen this season. But this was a good learning experience for us."
With senior Elizabeth Shancer serving in set two, the Pats pulled away.
Radtke and Donaldson took turns pounding the ball down for the Pats.
Stevenson's lead swelled to 16-9. Palatine had one more surge with Bridier serving. Kim Butler and Fricano scored points at the net.
"We played well," Crow said. "And there is some good talent on the Palatine side."
Helping Donaldson on attack were Pflugradt (5 kills) and Julie Osmond (3 kills). Helping run the Stevenson offense was Alexa Bykowski (12 assists).
Shancer led the team's defense with 13 digs. Donaldson added 7 digs.
Although it wasn't a great offensive game for the Pirates, Soderstrom had 4 kills for Palatine. Libero Casey Dolen notched 13 digs. Setters Alex Heidrich (7 assists) and Sarah Schiffner (5 assists) split the setting duties.