Waubonsie Valley coach Kristen Stuart hoped her young team would be playing its best volleyball by the end of the year.
This should fill the bill.
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Turning the tables on a three-set loss to Batavia at its own tournament three weeks ago, Waubonsie handled the Bulldogs 25-20, 25-22 on Thursday in Aurora.
"Our coach told us this is the best we've ever played. Batavia is a good team," Waubonsie junior Rachel Minarick said. "We all put in a really good effort, all came out ready to play. Redemption is sweet."
Michigan State recruit Minarick had 8 kills, 14 assists and 3 digs in a nice, well-rounded game. Minarick and freshman Brooke Burling both had 5 kills in the first set. When Batavia cut a 24-18 lead in the second to 24-22 on a pair of Heather Meyer aces, Waubonsie whistled for a timeout.
Out of the break the Warriors (17-11) got the ball to Minarick, who put away match point with a crosscourt smash.
"We kept our composure and were able to pull it out at the end," Minarick said. "It was a really loud gym."
Minarick sprained her finger in the teams' first meeting but did finish the match highlighted by its injuries.
Batavia standout middle Kristen Koncelik hurt her hand, and the Bulldogs also rallied with right-side Anysa Oncon out with a concussion.
The Bulldogs (14-14) were at full strength Thursday but saw a three-match win streak against Waubonsie end. Batavia had 64 digs in the first meeting, but the host Warriors' offense was much more in system the second time around.
"I can not even tell you how many times they hit high off our hands for kills," Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. "Give them credit. That's how we beat them the first time."
"I think we're getting a little more consistent," Minarick said. "At the beginning of the year, you really didn't know what you were going to get. Now we're on the same page, we know what we want to do."
Waubonsie's offense was well-rounded, with Burling and Lauren Lindell both matching Minarick's 8 kills.
"Brooke doesn't act like a freshman," Stuart said. "It's good when we can have several people involved."
Batavia led a close first set early 9-7, but the Warriors scored 3 straight points on Lauren Vollrath and Minarick kills, and a Noelle Linden ace and never trailed again in the set.
"I felt like from the beginning to the end, not that we did everything perfectly every moment, but I felt that we competed the entire time," Stuart said. "We never let up our energy or passion. That was really exciting to see. We've had some troubles closing out matches or coming out slow but we did a good job coming ready to play."
Meyer had 7 kills, Shea Stanley 6 and Koncelik 5 for Batavia, back in action this weekend at the Pumpkin Tournament.
"Give credit to Waubonsie," Trippi-Payne said. "We are two evenly matched teams and they outplayed us tonight. I tried a little bit different lineup in game one, it's the first time we've run that all year and that's my fault. I think I confused the girls a little bit. A lot of extra substitutions and I think it threw off our rhythm. That's all on me. Our kids played hard."