Glenbard West's ultimate goals this season still lie ahead.
That doesn't mean the Hilltoppers can't appreciate the long road they've already traveled.
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Glenbard West did so Monday evening before its match with Willowbrook, honoring seniors Caleigh Ryan and Amanda Perry for their 100th varsity wins. Both four-year starters, Perry and Ryan are as responsible as any for the recent renaissance on the volleyball court in Glen Ellyn.
"Outstanding leaders, tremendous students and really, really neat kids," Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea said. "Whatever you need you get from those two."
Ryan, moved from outside a couple years ago, has grown into one of the area's elite setters and will walk on at Northwestern next year. Perry perhaps is the more underrated of the two. She was huge last week against Lyons Township, putting down 15 kills in a three-set win in LaGrange.
"All she does is her job, all the time," Mastandrea said.
The Lyons win pushed Glenbard West to 22-0 on the season, a big hurdle toward the program's first West Suburban Silver title since 1984. Talent-wise, Glenbard West should beat a Lyons team that isn't on par with recent years. It was still a big psychological boost. Tough matches with York, next Tuesday in Glen Ellyn, and Downers Grove North remain.
"To win the conference, you pretty much have to beat LT," Mastandrea said. "That's what it comes down to, is our girls had never beat them. Getting over that hump hopefully makes them feel that they deserve to do it."
Big picture, the Hilltoppers could very well be undefeated going into Autumnfest Oct. 12-13 and should receive a No. 1 sectional seed next week.
"This year's been everything we dreamed of, and more," Mastandrea said. "Hopefully, it can be a real special year. This is only the beginning."
Asics next up for St. Francis:
St. Francis gets another gauge of its progress this weekend.
On the heels of a 4-1 third-place finish at the Rich East Invite, the Spartans (19-3) head to Mother McAuley for the always-tough Asics Challenge that features seven teams ranked nationally.
Assumption, a team out of Louisville ranked No. 2 in the latest PrepVolleyball.com rankings, leads the 24-team field. Assumption is the defending champion, winner of the Asics 11 of the last 16 years. Other top teams include McAuley (No. 10 nationally), St. Francis (No. 52), Utah's Lone Peak (No. 63), Marist (No. 83), New Jersey's Immaculate Heart Academy (No. 90) and Florida's Berkeley Prep (No. 97).
York, a new addition, and Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South are other local teams at the Asics.
"It's an honor to be invited to play there," St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said. "You have to be on your toes every match. Nothing is easy, nothing is a given."
Depending on how brackets are drawn up, St. Francis could get a chance to avenge two of its losses. The Spartans dropped three-setters at McAuley two weeks ago and to Marist last weekend at Rich East. St. Francis did bounce back from the Marist loss to beat Sandburg 25-21, 21-25, 25-22 in the third-place match.
"We're still trying to find a way to be more productive than we are," said Kopec, who may make some lineup alterations to improve blocking. "Being 19-3, it's not poor, but every match we've lost we lost in three sets. We need to take that next step and prevail in those situations."
Movin' on up:
Following its victory over Marist to win the Wheaton Classic, Benet moved up from 62nd to 36th in PrepVolleyball.com's rankings. The Redwings' 36-match win streak dating back to last year is now tied for the 11th longest in state history, according to the IHSA record books.
Most recently, Benet rolled past St. Charles North in two sets on Friday behind Brittany Pavich's 13 kills and 12 from Cara Mattaliano. The Redwings have dropped just one set all season.
Three more wins will tie Naperville Central, which won 39 in a row from 1997-98, for the longest streak in county history. That will be a tough chore, though. Benet is at Marian Catholic tonight, then must go to Marist for a Thursday rematch.
"These two weeks are always two great weeks, then we have Mizuno Cup and Autumnfest," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "You gotta earn it these two weeks."
Riley earns Big 12 honor:
Benet graduate Brianne Riley, now a junior libero at Kansas, recently earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Riley posted double-digit dig totals in four matches, with 76 over 13 sets. Riley had consecutive 20-dig totals to help the Jayhawks beat Arizona State and Wyoming en route to winning the Jayhawk Invitational title. Riley leads the Big 12 in digs, and her 1,078 digs is seventh on KU's all-time list first among active Big 12 players.
Volley for the Cure:
Many schools host "Volley for the Cure" events, but nobody goes more all out than Naperville Central and Wheaton Warrenville South. The two DVC rivals will host their annual event on Oct. 1 in Wheaton. The two teams raised more than $52,000 last year.