Benet going back 'home' for Wheaton Classic
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Wheaton has been a home away from home for the Benet volleyball team in recent years.
Will it continue this weekend?
The No. 2-ranked Redwings are the top seed at the Wheaton Classic this week, which concludes Saturday at Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
Benet (9-1), which has won 10 straight regular-season tournaments dating back to 2010, took first at Wheaton the last two years and four of the last five. The Redwings are 24-1 in five year's worth of matches at Wheaton, with a third-place finish in 2010.
Three-peating will be no walk in the park, though.
A deep field includes Marist, which handed Benet its only loss this season. Also at Wheaton is No. 3 St. Charles North (10-0), No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (10-1) and No. 9 Naperville North (7-1),
"It's a good tournament, there is no question about it," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "This tournament is always a great test for us. It's always packed with great teams."
Benet, still without standout middle Brittany Pavich as she recovers from a shoulder injury, shuffled its offense last week to generate more offense.
Six-foot senior Stephanie Sinnappan was moved from setter to outside, sophomore Tiffany Clark also switched to an outside position and senior Whitney Battoe moved from outside to right-side. Sarah Nielsen, a freshman, assumed setting duties.
"We hope that they bring a little more offense from what we were doing," Baker said. "We were doing really well, but our goals aren't to be doing really well; we want to win the whole thing. We need to be better than that. In those big matches we want to win by earning points."
Hilltoppers prove themselves in Effingham:
Glenbard West beefed up its nonconference schedule this year, a trip to Effingham's Crossroads Classic chief among the upgrades.
The Hilltoppers sure showed well.
In the competitive 24-team event with teams from four states, Glenbard West (12-2) took third place in the tournament won by St. Francis.
Glenbard West beat 2012 tournament champion Champaign Centennial in Saturday's quarterfinals, lost to defending Indiana Class 3A champ Indianapolis Bishop Chatard in the semis before bouncing back to beat Lexington Henry Clay for third place.
"I really felt like we could have played with anybody in that tournament," Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea said. "We played with Chatard point for point; it could have gone either way. After that loss we really had to dig deep against Henry Clay. It shows you the kind of team I have."
Mastandrea noted the breakout performances of Alison Burelbach and Natalie Schilling, and the steady play of middles Caroline Jenkins and Katie Ball. Of libero Meg DeMaar, he said "she was just sensational — at MVP level."
"We're really starting to see our team fall into place," he said. "Schilling is playing like a senior, our setting and defense is getting better and our hitters can score."
Glenbard West steps right back into West Suburban Silver play with a tough one tonight, hosting Lyons Twp.
"I didn't know if we could get to the level we were at last year," Mastandrea said, "but if you compare this year to last year we are better than we were last year at this time. I feel like a lot of the questions we had going into the season have been answered."
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