Seven months away from the sport she loves, Sydney Vischer is back with a bounce in her step.
Wheaton Academy will gladly reap the benefit.
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Showing energy and determination throughout, Vischer put down 8 kills in leading Wheaton Academy to its second straight strong road win to start the season, 25-20, 25-21 over Timothy Christian on Thursday in Elmhurst.
An ankle injury cost Vischer the second half of her sophomore high school season.
Then she chose to step away from club volleyball after five years with First Alliance. It's good to be back.
"This feels like a fresh start," said Vischer, a junior outside who also had 4 digs and 2 aces. "I took a break, partially because I was burned out and also because I needed to sort my priorities out. Now coming in, that bounce to my step, it's back."
Wheaton Academy coach D.A. Nichols has noticed a renewed player. Sydney is the third Vischer he's coached, and Nichols noted that all three have a head for the game.
"She sees the game, and it's not moving too fast for her," Nichols said. "Her energy, what she's bringing to practice, it's making everyone better. She's not letting mistakes get to her. It's her time to shine and she's ready for it."
Wheaton Academy (2-0), which Tuesday won at Batavia, pulled away midway through both games Thursday.
Tied at 17-17 in the first, a Michelle Ridderhoff kill followed by a pair of Timothy Christian errors gave Wheaton Academy a lead it wouldn't give up. Vischer angled a kill off the block for game point. Leading 17-16 in the second the Warriors scored 4 of the next 5 points, a Ridderhoff kill off a Trojans overpass capping the mini-surge.
Wheaton Academy graduated All-Area outside Bianca Cifaldi off last year's 28-win team, but Nichols thinks this group can be even better.
"That one loss is a big one, but I like this team a lot," he said. "I like their demeanor, I like their focus and in practice they are spot on. It's a tough schedule for us starting out but those are two good wins."
Ridderhoff had 6 kills, Brianna Tellschow 3 and Jessica Bosse 12 digs for the Warriors.
Timothy Christian (0-2), which dropped its season-opening match Tuesday to Westmont, is hoping it won't be without one of its better hitters for too long. Outside Elena Bulthuis landed awkwardly, appearing to knock knees with another player after a kill early in the first game and didn't return.
Without her the Trojans hung in there, Kacie Stoll carrying the load at the net with 10 kills and just 1 error. Standout Trojans setter Jenna Lodewyk had 13 assists, a number coach Scott Piersma would like to see go up with more kills go down.
"I thought we passed well, and we played pretty good defense, but we just have to put the ball down," Piersma said. "We had a lot of attempts that were kept in play.
Tonight we got hurt not following hitters real well. We kind of let (Vischer) roam free without keeping an eye on her, and we got burned."