The Maine West and Elk Grove players felt the heat when they opened the girls volleyball season on Monday night in Des Plaines.
"It was awful," said Warriors senior setter Kassidy Riportella of the stuffy conditions in the Warriors' gymnasium. "I'd get the ball and it would slip right off my hands. Towels were definitely important. It was just something you had to deal with. We just had to work through it."
Both teams worked hard to the final point, which dramatically came on a block by senior Britanny Collins to give the Warriors a tense 25-20, 16-25, 27-25 victory in the nonconference match.
"I don't remember the last time we beat Elk Grove," said Warriors coach Randy Tiller. "It's been a while. That No. 24 (junior Amber Lindfors, who connected for 4 kills and 4 blocks) was a challenge."
West sophomore Allison Grzebien was also a challenge for Elk Grove.
Making her varsity debut, the 6-foot-2 Grzebien put down a match-high 14 kills. Senior Julia Huinker added 4 kills for West while teammates Collins and senior Magda Czerlonka each had 3. Junior Alyssa Suriano chipped in 3 blocks.
"That was intense," said Collins, of the Warriors' first win over Elk Grove since 2008. "It was great to win our first one."
The Warriors won the first game by racing to a 5-0 lead, getting 4 straight service points from Grzebien.
Moments later, senior Abbi Donovan served 4 straight points and the lead grew to 10-1.
Donovan also had the big ace which gave West its 26-25 lead in Game 3.
Elk Grove got as close as 15-11 in Game 1 on a block by Melissa Solorio.
West eventually won the game on Collins' kill which made it 25-20.
"We should have finished it in two games," Collins said. "Our energy was very high in that first game but in the second, things were scattered and we didn't not play as a team. The third game we knew we had to get more energy and be louder than the other team."
Elk Grove made a lot of noise in the middle of Game 2, surging ahead 20-10.
The Grens received aces from seniors Kelly Regan (9 digs) and Kelsey Conley during the run. Lindfors' block of an overpass ended the game at 25-16.
The 6-foot-4 Lindfors missed last season due to thyroid surgery.
"It was exciting to see Amber's first game back," said Grenadiers coach Stephanie Kezios. "I hadn't seen her play in a year but she looked good in the summer and I was excited to see what she did this match."
The exciting finish to the match saw the score tied at every point from 21 to 27.
"I thought we came out with some obvious nervousness in Game 1," Kezios added. "Then the team I've been seeing all summer preparing for this season showed up in Game 2. And I was proud of how they hung in there in Game 3."
Senior Taylor Brown added 4 kills for the Grens' attack which was set by senior Kerry Souder. Celina Wlodarski and Regan each had aces for the Grens.
Senior libero Janna Lopez sparked the Warriors' back row with 10 digs while Riportella collected 26 assists, 4 aces and 1 kill.
"Kassidy has a lot of weapons this season," Tiller said. "She is discovering who she can count on at different times."
When the heat was on, Riportella delivered on Monday.
Libertyville def. Hersey: Host Libertyville won the nonconference season-opening match 25-16, 19-25, 25-20.
"We missed 11 serves in the match," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "It was a very hard-fought match but we committed a lot of errors in the back court."
Liz Fuerst (22-of-23 11 kills), Courtney Stedman (9-of-10, 4 kills) and Kelly Hill (14-of-15, 4 kills) led the attack for Hersey, which received 9 assists from Stedman and 8 from Carly Pisano, who also served a pair of aces.
Jola Ignaciuk had 4 blocks while Kierra Busse collected 14 digs.
Stevenson d. Rolling Meadows: Stevenson won the nonconference match 25-9, 25-10 in Lincolnshire.
The Mustangs were led on attack by Lauren Sokolowski (7-of-8, 3 kills) and Jenny Vliet (10-of-12, 3 kills) while Ashley Montanez (7-of-10) and Hannah (2-of-4) each had one.
Senior setter Sami Kay was 17-of-20 with 5 assists while Vliet was 20-of-21 setting with 3 assists.