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updated: 9/11/2013 9:36 PM

Lakes establishing winning identity

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  • Lakes' Megan Behrendt (14) knocks the ball past Vernon Hills' Tori Smith during Wednesday night's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.

       Lakes' Megan Behrendt (14) knocks the ball past Vernon Hills' Tori Smith during Wednesday night's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Tori Smith sets the ball during Wednesday night's volleyball match against visiting Lakes High School.

       Vernon Hills' Tori Smith sets the ball during Wednesday night's volleyball match against visiting Lakes High School.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Lakes' McKenna Lahr (6) knocks the ball past Vernon Hills' Katie Brettmann during Wednesday's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.

       Lakes' McKenna Lahr (6) knocks the ball past Vernon Hills' Katie Brettmann during Wednesday's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Lakes' Haley Halberg plays the ball during Wednesday night's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.

       Lakes' Haley Halberg plays the ball during Wednesday night's volleyball game in Vernon Hills.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was a virtual who's who in sports from Antioch High School in Wednesday night's girls volleyball battle between Lakes and host Vernon Hills.

Working the line in the match was former Antioch softball coach Judy Smithhisler. Sitting in the crowd was former girls basketball coach Dave Woods. He was watching his granddaughter, budding star hitter Megan Behrendt. And finally, the unbeaten Eagles were being coached by Katie Cheek.

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Who?

Cheek is the former Katie Hofeldt, a onetime superstar hitter for the Sequoits.

After a nip and tuck first set, the Eagles (4-0) stopped the young Cougars squad 25-23, 25-17.

Like Vernon Hills, these Eagles have some young players as well. In addition to Behrendt (9 kills), Lakes has another promising sophomore in setter Maddie Demo.

"She's crazy with her workouts,'' Cheek said of Demo. "She's in the gym all of the time. She's really intense and wants to win."

Yet Demo isn't a volleyball player who fell out of the crib ready to play the sport.

"I really started playing in seventh grade,'' Demo said. "I fell in love with the sport. It was my choice to play setter and I've done that from day one."

The first set could have gone either way. Lakes had its biggest lead at 15-12 after a McKenna Lahr kill. The Cougars (2-8) rallied late behind the blocking of Mia Polisky and Kasey Firnbach. Vernon Hills pulled within a point at 24-23 before Behrendt closed the first set off with a kill.

"Megan is a rock star,'' Cheek said. "And she's just a sophomore. She's out there talking to everyone."

Set two got out of hand when Lisa Buehler went into serve for Lakes. She rang off five straight points aided by a pair of Lair kills. Haley Halberg had a block kill during the on her way to finishing with 6 kills as the Eagles' lead grew to 23-11.

The Cougars weren't through, though. Sophomore Dana Meline served a pair of aces to help her team. And keeping the team afloat a little longer was junior Sienna Spiglanin, the younger sister of Vernon Hills boys middle blocker Max Spiglanin. She had help from 2 kills from Val Barybina.

"We are struggling with communication,'' said Vernon Hills coach Abbie Gutzmer. "That's why we having a hard time in games. We are looking for a team voice."

Barybina led the Cougars' attack with 4 kills. Firnbach and Spiglanin both had 2 kills. Hustling setter Tori Smith notched 8 assists.

Demo and the Eagles seem to be on a good roll although it's still early in the season.

"It's definitely a great group of girls,'' she said. "We are playing as a team.''

Demo also gave a round of applause to Behrendt.

"Megan is a huge asset to this team,'' Demo said. "We kept our energy up tonight. We had to play crazy defense."

Vernon Hills saluted Emilia Jaskowska, the team's lone senior, with a round of applause.

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