After two tightly-contested games, Hersey coach Nancy Lill found the right message to send to her defending Mid-Suburban League champions heading into the final set.
"She told us we needed to step up our game," said Huskies junior middle hitter Gabri Olhava. "We had to come out strong in that third game and have a lot of energy."
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The Huskies, going after their 53rd straight win in the MSL East, listened attentively to their coaches' dialogue and responded with a 25-22, 22-25, 25-11 triumph at the Carter Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Olhava helped paved the way with 7 kills and 5 blocks as the Huskies improved to 4-7 and 2-0 in the MSL East, where they have not lost in five seasons.
"Hersey played great defense and served well," said Meadows coach Joe Di Silvio, whose team slipped to 6-4 and 1-1. "We had a hard time getting the ball up to the net to run our quick offense and we became too predictable."
The outcome was unpredictable after the first two games in which neither team led by more than 3 points.
But after Meadows edged ahead 5-3 in Game 3 on ace by libero Grace Skorin, Hersey made its winning move.
The Huskies scored 6 of the next 7 points, including 2 big kills by junior Caity Strozewski, the second one giving the hosts a 9-4 edge, and they never looked back.
Strozewski (5 kills for the match) got her cues each time from setter Courtney Stedman, who finished with 20 assists for the match.
"Courtney was smart enough to know that she had a good matchup and she used her," Lill said of Stedman's deliveries to Strozewski. "That was the turning point of Game 3."
The Huskies never let up the rest of the way, extending the lead to 18-8 on a kill by Kelly Hill (5 kills).
"Rolling Meadows is definitely a very good team and they played great," Lill said. "We made a lot of errors and we kept serving their libero (Skorin). Every time we did that, she made a nice play and they ran their middle.
"When we followed the game plan (not serving Skorin), we made life a lot easier for ourselves. She's (Skorin) exceptional."
Lauren Sokolowski (11-14 serving) collected 6 aces to help spark the Mustangs' offense which was led on attack by Mia Harper (8 kills), Ashley Montanez (7 kills), Sokolowski (6) and Vliet (3).
Vliet handed out 13 assists while Sami Kay had 7.
"We had some opportunities," Di Silvio said. "It was close. I told the girls how important it was to win the first game because that sets the tone for the match. We were lucky enough to get the momentum back in the second game but not fortunate enough to have it carry over to the third game."
Sophomore outside hitter Liz Fuerst led the Hersey attack with 8 kills while Katie Rozanski and Stedman each had 2 and Megan Solans 1. Solans also served 5 aces.
"It's great to get the win," Lill said. "We've been playing such tough competition. We are a young team and we've had a our ups and downs and a lot of lineup changes. So this was a great win for us."