Depending on how long St. Charles East lasts in the postseason -- judging by the impressive early returns it could be awhile -- the Saints should end up playing somewhere around 35 to 40 matches this year.
Somehow only five of those will take place on their home court, which is a bit of a shame considering the number of fans the Saints draw and the raucous atmosphere.
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St. Charles East made the first of those five home games count Tuesday, sweeping West Chicago 25-16, 25-18 in front of a large and loud home crowd.
It was "Red, White and Blue" night, and the fans turned out in droves. They saw the Saints keep control of both games while a young West Chicago team played well to keep each game close.
"We are truly blessed to have the greatest fans ever," Saints coach Jennie Kull said. "Our football team, soccer team, we had a plethora of different sports here. And it was huge and they were so into it and it was so much fun. I can say it one more year, we are blessed, we have the greatest kids and I love them."
That environment was the first thing West Chicago coach Kris Hasty mentioned about the game, unprompted. Playing three sophomores and a freshman, Hasty liked how her team kept its composure.
"That's a fun gym to play in," Hasty said. "It's not a gym our kids have really been in and I thought they handled themselves pretty well. I thought they stayed calm and at times played right with them."
St. Charles East (3-0) surged in the middle of Game 1 to open its biggest lead at 20-10. Megan Schildmeyer served 2 aces and Kyla Augustine put a ball down during an 8-2 run.
Emily Windisch's block kill and then big swing on the outside drew the Wildcats a little closer before the Saints closed the game on a net violation.
In Game 2, Kull continued using her entire roster, and everyone who came in contributed. Mikaela Mosquera was particularly effective in the middle.
"Our middles are going to be key for us. Then it opens up the outside and right-sides," said Mosquera, who is back at 100 percent after missing much of last year with a concussion.
"It feels awesome to be back on the court and playing with all these girls. It's been a great feeling for all of us seniors."
The Wildcats got as close as four on a couple occasions late in Game 2 with Windisch and Lucy Diaz both coming up with kills. But the Saints continued to work the middle, and their final two points both came when Schildmeyer set Mosquera including a perfect slide play on match point.
"I'm pleased with all three middles," Kull said of Mosquera, Alex Mazanke and Riley Schumacher. "It's nice to have that option. I don't know that we were able to get them involved as much as we would have liked to last year."
Schildmeyer led the Saints with 13 assists, 5 digs, 5 kills and 3 aces. She had plenty of help as the whole team contributed including Anne Hughes (8 digs), Caroline Mckeighan (4 digs), Emily Schildmeyer (3 kills), Morgan Windau (3 assists), Augustine (2 kills), Meagan Smith (7 kills, 3 digs), Chloe Rojas (5 digs), Mosquera (5 kills), Schumacher (5 kills, block), Avery Macklin (2 kills) and Morgan Kull (4 assists).
"This team gets along well and it doesn't change when you put different people out there," Kull said. "To play other kids and the tempo and energy doesn't change, that's a really nice thing to have."
Windisch and Diaz both had 3 kills to pace West Chicago. Diaz added 6 digs while Laura Katarzynski (2 blocks) and Ronni Katarzynski each had 3 digs.
"It's just a matter of getting more experience and getting more confident in ourselves," Hasty said. "It was a good effort."