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updated: 10/3/2012 9:46 AM

Lill gets win No. 800 as Hersey clinches division

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  • Hersey girls volleyball coach Nancy Lill thanks her team after earning her 800th career coaching victory during the Huskies' MSL East-clinching effort Tuesday at Buffalo Grove.

       Hersey girls volleyball coach Nancy Lill thanks her team after earning her 800th career coaching victory during the Huskies' MSL East-clinching effort Tuesday at Buffalo Grove.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey girls volleyball coach Nancy Lill leads her team on her way to earning her 800th career coaching victory during the Huskies' MSL East-clinching effort Tuesday at Buffalo Grove.

       Hersey girls volleyball coach Nancy Lill leads her team on her way to earning her 800th career coaching victory during the Huskies' MSL East-clinching effort Tuesday at Buffalo Grove.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey's Liz Fuerst, left, and Gabriella Olhava block the ball at the net during Tuesday's game against Buffalo Grove.

       Hersey's Liz Fuerst, left, and Gabriella Olhava block the ball at the net during Tuesday's game against Buffalo Grove.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove's Marie Georgoulis, right, tries to tip the ball past Hersey's Gabriella Olhava, left, and Anna Mullen-Muhr during Tuesday's game.

       Buffalo Grove's Marie Georgoulis, right, tries to tip the ball past Hersey's Gabriella Olhava, left, and Anna Mullen-Muhr during Tuesday's game.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey setter Abby Fesl, right, tips the ball as Buffalo Grove's Alaina Murphy stands ready at the net during Tuesday's game.

       Hersey setter Abby Fesl, right, tips the ball as Buffalo Grove's Alaina Murphy stands ready at the net during Tuesday's game.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Buffalo Grove girls volleyball coach Matt Priban wasn't born in 1983, when Nancy Lill got the first coaching win of her career.

But 29 years later, Priban was there to see Lill's milestone 800th win.

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And the first-year Bison coach saw a solid effort from the Huskies, who clinched a record 10th straight Mid-Suburban East title and 49th straight win in the division with a 25-12, 25-9 decision at Buffalo Grove.

"What a great accomplishment," said the 26-year-old Priban, whose club (11-11, 5-3) is second behind Hersey (19-3, 8-0) in the East. "I told her after the match I hope I can get to that to that point. It's pretty amazing."

Amazing indeed, as Lill has lost only 245 matches in her combined 28 seasons -- three at Wheeling, and the last 25 at Hersey.

"It made it a special night by being able to clinch (the East)," Lil said. "I'm really excited about this group. They are getting better and better. They're not just satisfied winning. They want to terminate -- get in and out.

"With (North Florida-bound setter) Abby Fesl (19 assists, 3 kills) at the helm, she gives the hitters the ball on a silver platter."

And the attackers were golden on Tuesday, led by Anna Mullen-Muhr (8 kills), Courtney Stedman (5) and Erica Hill (4), Gabriella Olhava (1) and Liz Fuerst (1).

The top attacker for the Bison was senior Bailey North, who registered 5 kills and 4 blocks.

Hersey's Taylor Schill, Fesl and Carly Pisano all had a pair of aces while teammate Annie Mueller picked up 6 digs in the back row. Megan Solans had 4 digs and Katie Krebs 3.

After the match, the Huskies players brought out new T-shirts that read "800 wins and counting" on the front and "Proud to be part of the Legacy" on the back.

That Lill legacy includes second-, third- and fourth-place finish in three state finals, 21 regional titles, 8 sectional crowns and 6 supersectional wins, 17 MSL divisional titles and 8 overall.

"She's a great coach," said Schill, herself a great libero. "She cares a lot about her players. It's crazy. What a great feeling for her to have so many wins. And it's a fun program."

A program in which Bob Brown (14 years), Amy Barfield (13 years), Ben Chin (9 years and Dan Vesper (4 years) are the current assistants.

"Nancy's competitiveness shows up at every team practice and at every match," said Barfield, a former Lake Zurich standout volleyball and softball player. "And that inspires her players. She is super involved in summer leagues and programs, watching these kids grow up at young ages and keeping an eye on them."

Lill always has good eye on her opponent as well.

"It's just her dedication and how she prepares," said Chin, whose daughter Krista starred for Wheeling girls volleyball team. "It's just a joy to work for her."

Hersey girls athletic director Pat Kennedy, who is retiring after the school year, was on hand Tuesday. She has worked with Lill since taking over the girls program in 1994.

"Nancy is just a pleasure to be around," Kennedy said. "I am not surprised at all she has reached this level. She is just a top-notch coach and she sees the big picture.

"I love her style and her treatment of the kids. She is always so positive and she knows the game so well."

Lill played at Riverside-Brookfield and Illinois before becoming a coach. Her daughter Katie was the Daily Herald honorary co-captain as all-area outside hitter three years ago for the Huskies and now studies at Notre Dame.

Lill's husband Jim was calling his daughter in South Bend after the match, which allowed Lill to join only five other coaches in Illinois who have won 800 times.

"And she is going to keep going," Kennedy said. "She's amazing and just a pleasure to be around.

"When Nancy said she was leaving the boys program for a while a few years ago, I thought 'What a loss for that program,' but Jodi Blazek (a former standout for Lill) did a great job filling in."

Former Hersey girls AD Ann Penstone hired Lill for the Hersey girls volleyball job in 1988. The move proved to be an ace.

"I love listening to Nancy's pep talks in the huddles," Kennedy said. "She is telling the girls how to adjust and she just never gives up. When the team is down, she tells them that they're are still going to win the match. And they do."

For 28 seasons ... and counting.

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