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updated: 10/22/2013 10:32 PM

Conant punctuates strong finish with crossover win

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Peggy Scholten entered the Conant gymnasium Tuesday night for the final time in a regular-season match as the Cougars head coach.

The 37-year veteran left in style, with a victory in the Mid-Suburban League second-place crossover match against Rolling Meadows.

The 26-24, 25-18 victory was an exclamation point to the second half of the season for the Cougars in which they went 4-1 in the West, including a victory over champion Barrington.

Senior Jenn O'Donnell put down a match-high 11 kills as the Cougars improved to 14-16 heading into this weekend's Lake Park Invite.

"That No. 7 (O'Donnell) really executed and put the ball away when they needed it," said Meadows coach Joe Di Silvio, whose team is 20-13.

O'Donnell handed out credit to Scholten's brother, Mark Russo, who has spent some time in the gym with the Cougars.

"We didn't start out the season real strong," she said. "But he has put us through some tough workouts and I think during the long rallies, that really gives us an advantage. We don't get as tired."

Scholten said her brother Mark has been a contributor for the last five seasons.

"It's just a more formal plyometrics training," said Peggy Scholten, whose school hosts a Class AA sectional in two weeks. "We just set aside times every so often. It's always nice to get some fresh input from someone else."

The Mustangs also got some strong attacking from Drea Catalano (6 kills), Alyssa Wachal (3 kills) and DeeDee Durr (3 kills).

Game 1 was tight to the finish. Tied at 24-24, Catalano took a set from Elisa Ambrose and put down a kill before a hitting error gave the Cougars the win.

Durr quickly swung the momentum to the home side in Game 2 with 7 straight service points to start Game 2, including 3 aces.

Meadows never got closer than 4 points.

Kari Thomsen (12-of-12 serve receive) and O'Donnell (13 digs) sparked the Cougars back row while Sarah Mazurek handed out 13 assists and Ambrose 9. Sarah Manczko collected a pair of blocks.

"We knew it would not be easy because Rolling Meadows finished second in their division, too," said O'Donnell, who also had a match-high 4 blocks. "So we knew we had to work our hardest all the way."

Sami Kay and Mia Harper worked hard at the service line for Meadows, delivering a combined 19-of-19 with 2 aces.

"Between the two of them, they kept our serve game going," Di Silvio said.

Hannah Mickey has been a strong factor at the net lately and Tuesday was no exception as the sophomore outside hitter put down 6 kills.

Leading the Mustangs on attack was Lauren Sokolowski with 9 kills while Ashley Montanez also had 6.

Mustangs senior Jenny Vliet was 18-of-18 setting for 10 assists and also had 5 digs along with Sokolowski, Harper and Grace Skorin.

"I just felt Conant kept putting the ball in play and let us make mistakes," Di Silvio said. "And we really couldn't get our blocking going."

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