These two special setters have met before. Through club volleyball. And now they both have stories to tell about the schools they will be attending next fall.
For Lake Zurich setter Kristen Walding, it's Northeastern in Boston. For Carmel Catholic setter Alyssa Armada, it's the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a short train ride from New York City.
With those Division I scholarships in hand, both setters met on Lake Zurich's home floor to decide which unbeaten team would be left standing in the early going of the volleyball season.
After a thrilling first set, the home-standing Bears (3-0) emerged with a 25-23, 25-21 victory.
"We were able to maintain our composure," said Lake Zurich coach Matt Aiello. "And Carmel is a talented team."
Now more on the college hunts.
Armada received an email from the folks in New Jersey.
"I thought it was spam," Armada said. "But they liked my leadership. It was my eighth college visit. And it's a full ride."
Northeastern offered Walding's major, engineering.
"Mom and I liked that," Walding said. "I'm really excited about it. I've already tried the clam chowder."
Lake Zurich opened a 12-9 lead in Set 1 before Lauren Fournier went to serve for the Corsairs (2-1). She fired off an ace and had hitting help from Armada and a block kill from Elizabeth Rengers. The Lake Zurich lead was down to 15-14
"This was our first real test," Armada said. "It was a tough crowd and a rivalry game, but we fought and came out swinging."
The Bears had a solid first set from southpaw Allie McIlwain.
"Allie is a good volleyball player who works hard," Aiello said. "She is playing with a lot of confidence right now."
In Set 2, Lake Zurich was able to keep the Corsairs at bay. The hitting star for Lake Zurich was Kiley McPeek.
"Kiley spent a lot of time trying to increase her vertical and strength," Aiello said. "She's so fast and so athletic."
The key run in Set 2 opened with a Mallory Parsons kill and closed with two consecutive kills from McPeek.
"Before I got here, Lake Zurich would routinely beat us," said Carmel coach David Pazely. "We got them last year. Lake Zurich is ranked 12th in the state and was totally off the grid."
Both setters agreed their teams played well in this match.
"We came out with a lot of intensity," Walding said. "We have a lot of potential to be really good. We have a lot of experience in the gym."
Armada is a big fan of her squad as well.
"We have a lot of potential," she said. "This will give us motivation for the next time we play them. We have to beat them to get to state."
Carmel slugger Grace Schofield led the Corsairs attack with 5 kills. Rengers added 5 blocks. Armada checked with 3 kills and 15 assists. Morgan Meade had 3 kills. Shauna Meagher had 8 digs on defense.
Walding's 29 assists were spread out. McPeek led a balanced attack with 7 kills. McIlwain and Parsons added 6 kills. Sydney Glover finished with 5 kills. Libero Ashley Dina notched 27 digs.