After dropping the first game to Rosary, St. Charles East girls volleyball coach Jennie Kull made a few lineup changes and altered her team's serving strategy.
The moves definitely paid dividends, as the Saints improved their early-season record to 3-0 with Wednesday's 23-25, 25-9, 25-23 nonconference victory over the Royals (3-3) before a boisterous crowd in St. Charles.
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Senior outside hitters Dana Voltolina (5 kills), Ashley Bullock (3 kills), and junior defensive specialist Chloe Rojas (1 ace, 5 digs) came off the bench to help ignite the Saints' attack in Game 2.
Alternating between short, soft serves and powerful ones, St. Charles East rolled to leads of 7-0, 11-2, 18-4, and 23-5 to force a decisive third game.
"I think the key thing there was execution," said Kull. "We asked them to do different things and they were able to execute. That's how this whole season is going to have to be. We're going to have to make the adjustment quickly -- and they were able to do that."
The Saints also received a big-time performance from 6-1 junior middle hitter Mikaela Mosquera, who delivered 3 of her match-high 9 kills during the team's 7-0 start in Game 2.
"We haven't had Mikaela hitting as much so far but we got her involved (tonight)," said Kull. "That was huge for us."
St. Charles East also got off to a fast start in Game 3, as back-to-back aces from Megan Schildmeyer (7 kills, 7 digs) helped the home team grab a 9-1 lead.
After a replayed point (that was originally won by the Saints) was won by Rosary, momentum quickly swung toward the visitors.
Sparked by junior outside hitter Nina Valaitis (5 kills), the Royals drew even at 13-all and took its first lead of the game moments later following a Saints' hitting error.
"Mentally, we've got to make adjustments sooner," said Kull, whose team may have went into a bit of a lull after jumping out to an early lead. "I think we took a break and we can't do that."
This time, however, the Saints were able to overcome their mid-game sluggishness, thanks to 6-1 senior setter Carly Jimenez (31 assists, 3 kills, 2 blocks), Voltolina, and junior outside hitter Meagan Smith (3 kills, 6 digs).
"We were really able to pull together as a team," said Jimenez. "We definitely had to keep calm because the match was very up and down."
The Saints also received contributions from Anne Hughes (22 digs), Emily Vitel (4 digs, 2 assists), and Carly Matthews (4 digs).
"Mental toughness was huge," said Mosquera. "It was great that we came back and everyone contributed."
"There's not one person on the bench who will not be utilized," said Kull, whose team lost its first 4 matches a year ago. "That's going to be how it is (this season). I'll take 3-0 -- it's definitely better than 0-4."
Rosary, which earned the Bronze division title at last weekend's Plainfield North Invitational, was led by senior outside hitter Lauren Murray (8 kills) and freshman Erin Burke (8 kills).
"We pulled ourselves out (of a hole)," said Royals coach Rachel Hartmann. "It wasn't for a win but at least it was level. We're a young and new team so I think we're going to run into some of these things."