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updated: 9/19/2012 10:34 PM

Libertyville steps up for Loika's 100th win

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  • Libertyville coach Greg Loika celebrates his 100th win with his players after the Wildcats defeated Stevenson Wednesday night at Libertyville.

       Libertyville coach Greg Loika celebrates his 100th win with his players after the Wildcats defeated Stevenson Wednesday night at Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville players celebrate during their 3-set win over Stevenson on Wednesday night at Libertyville High School. The victory gave Libertyville coach Greg Loika his 100th career win.

       Libertyville players celebrate during their 3-set win over Stevenson on Wednesday night at Libertyville High School. The victory gave Libertyville coach Greg Loika his 100th career win.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Dana Kym, left, and Alex Basler, right, celebrate their win over Stevenson with a teary-eyed Kristen Webb Wednesday night at Libertyville.

       Libertyville's Dana Kym, left, and Alex Basler, right, celebrate their win over Stevenson with a teary-eyed Kristen Webb Wednesday night at Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Rhiannon Prentiss, right, spikes one toward Stevenson's Jenna Radtke during the Wildcats' 3-set win Wednesday night at Libertyville High School.

       Libertyville's Rhiannon Prentiss, right, spikes one toward Stevenson's Jenna Radtke during the Wildcats' 3-set win Wednesday night at Libertyville High School.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Liza Pflugradt, right, spikes one at Libertyville's Taylor Zant during their game Wednesday night at Libertyville.

       Stevenson's Liza Pflugradt, right, spikes one at Libertyville's Taylor Zant during their game Wednesday night at Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Julia Osmond, left, and Khaila Donaldson block the attack by Libertyville's Taylor Zant Wednesday night at Libertyville.

       Stevenson's Julia Osmond, left, and Khaila Donaldson block the attack by Libertyville's Taylor Zant Wednesday night at Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Alex Basler, left, and Rhiannon Prentiss block the attack by Stevenson's Jenna Radtke during the Wildcats' 3-set win Wednesday night at Libertyville.

       Libertyville's Alex Basler, left, and Rhiannon Prentiss block the attack by Stevenson's Jenna Radtke during the Wildcats' 3-set win Wednesday night at Libertyville.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

The elaborately choreographed, up-tempo dance, which included every member of Libertyville's volleyball team and in particular homecoming court members Kristen Webb and Haley Becker, was strictly coincidence.

"Very goofy," Wildcats coach Greg Loika said with a smile and roll of the eyes, as his players danced and celebrated on their home court.

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"They want me to get involved," Loika added. "I said, 'Talk to me after Wednesday.' "

Loika might be ready to rock after his team gave him reason to dance Wednesday night. Behind an impressive final-set performance from its Division I-bound setter Cindy Zhou, Libertyville rallied to beat nemesis Stevenson 21-25, 25-17, 25-21 in a North Suburban Conference Lake Division showdown that didn't disappoint.

Libertyville, which started the season 1-2, improved to 11-3 and 3-0 in the NSC Lake, while Stevenson fell to 12-2 and 2-1.

For Loika, it was his 100th win since he replaced hall-of-famer Chris Trzyna in 2009.

"He's such a great person. He's a great coach," said Libertyville's Butler-bound libero Kristen Webb, who had 25 digs. "You can go to him off the court with anything, volleyball related or not, and you can trust him. That really means a lot. It translates to our play on the court."

Both Webb and Michigan-recruit Zhou have been with Loika for all 100 victories. Like Webb, Zhou shined against Stevenson. The 6-foot setter dished out 20 assists and racked up 7 kills. She put on a show in the decisive set, punishing the Patriots with a variety of precise punches and flicks to the back row. Once, Zhou blindly dumped the ball behind her head to a spot where no defender could retrieve it.

"She's a tall player so she gets to a lot of things on the net," said Northern Illinois-bound Jenna Radtke, who had 8 kills for Stevenson. "But we just weren't playing well defensively. She tipped it to back corners a lot, and we weren't fast enough laterally. I think that's one of the big things that hurt us."

Zhou's soft touch on a kill snapped an 8-8 tie in Set 3. She then punched a kill over a block to put Libertyville in front. She used the same play three more times, including on the last point of the match.

"It's nice when you got somebody her size, although we try to not have her do some of that stuff at the net," Loika said. "She just went up and kept flicking it right over the blockers' hands. The blockers were right on top of her, and she just kept beating them. A couple of times, those were big momentum swings for us."

Webb used a similar two-handed shot to the back row to end the second set. The highlight came seconds after her dig kept the play alive. Libertyville rattled off the last eight points after a block by Stevenson's 6-4 Kara Maleski tied the score at 17-17.

Stevenson never trailed in the opening set.

"It was weird because we came out slower than we usually do," Webb said. "We're usually really good at starting out fast. I think it was just the weight of the game and knowing that it was Stevenson that we started out a little tentative. We'd cheer, but you couldn't feel the impact. Second game we came out with more intensity, and third game we were rocking it. Every point we would yell and scream and have so much fun with it. That really helped to get our play going."

"I think we had a lot of energy in the first game," Radtke said. "In the second game, we came out and were like, 'We're fine. We're going to beat them. It's already over.' But it wasn't. We didn't come out as strong. I really wish that we did."

Stevenson counted 10 hitting errors by one player, five by another and four by yet another.

"We just made so many errors," Patriots coach Tim Crow said. "The girls were just scrambling. They were pressing, panicking. They've never been like that this year, and we've played some very good teams."

Libertyville also got contributions from Taylor Zant (9 kills, 9 digs), Julia Smagacz (5 kills), Vicky Liu (9 digs), Alex Basler (4 blocks, 2 kills) and Jordan Bauer (2 kills, 2 blocks).

Jacksonville State-bound Liza Pflugradt had 9 kills for Stevenson. Khaila Donaldson added seven. Libero Liz Shancer notched 14 digs.

"We were doing anything and everything we could to kill our momentum to win this match," Crow said. "I'm perplexed and astonished by how many errors we made, just because we've been a very consistent team this year."

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