How dare visiting Round Lake give Mundelein's volleyball team a hard time on senior night? Especially after the gorgeous pregame ceremony honoring the 12th-graders on the Mustangs' team.
Put it this way: The Panthers seemingly dug everything and were on the brink of toppling the Mustangs in two sets. That's right, with Destiny Brown serving and middle blocker Dominique Gonzales putting down the ball, it was 23-18 Round Lake in the second set.
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And then the Mustangs handed the ball to sophomore Yasmeen Johnson to serve. She didn't fail, and because of it, Mundelein managed a win on senior night, 24-26, 26-24, 25-16.
"I don't get nervous," Johnson said. "I just want to kill a ball or get a point. Round Lake was really scrappy and we had to get pumped."
Mundelein coach George Dressen knew the visitors had no victories to brag about in conference play.
"They played incredible defense," Dressen said. "And they never gave up. We could have easily shut down in the second set. But we said let's do it for the seniors, and then we started jelling. There are reasons why you never look past an opponent. Round Lake brought their A game."
With Round Lake coach Kristin Lilla out with an illness, sophomore coach Alma Sierra filled in and was amazed at how well the Panthers played.
"We played some awesome defense," Sierra said.
It looked early that the Mustangs might make quick work of the Panthers.
Mundelein setter Madi Wilcox opened the match with 4 quick points from the serving line. But then the Panthers began to return the ball over the net. Gonzales (10 kills) made her presence known and Round Lake had pulled out set one.
"She played smart," Sierra said of Gonzales.
Mundelein came back from the brink of defeat in set two. Johnson's clutch serving, including an ace, cut the Round Lake lead to 24-21. Sarah Bregenzer took over from serving line, and aided by a kill from Ashley Dolin gave the Mustangs the win in set two.
"Sarah had some amazing serves," Johnson said.
Round Lake had one more gasp in the third set. Two more Gonzales kills gave the Panthers a 5-3 lead. Again Bregenzer went to the serving line, and helped along by two kills from Dolin and one from fellow senior Courtney Perreault, Mundelein began to pull away.
In addition to Dolin and Perreault the Mundelein seniors saluted on this night included libero Liz Cameron, outside hitters Adriana Mata and Kiesha Brown and defensive specialist Emily East. Mundelein doesn't just introduce the seniors on this night. The underclassman on this team read a full speech saluting each senior.
Bregenzer led a balanced attack with 9 kills. Also helping were Perreault (8 kills), Dolin (6 kills) and Johnson (6 kills).
"And Johnson didn't come in until halfway through the second set," Dressen noted. "That was a big turning point."
Setter Wilcox notched 23 assists. Perreault led the defense with 17 digs.
Mata had 11 digs. Wilcox and Cameron added 10 digs each.