The Kaneland girls volleyball team stopped Glenbard West in the final Saturday of the 33rd annual Blue & Gold Falcon Classic at Wheaton North 25-17, 25-22.
It's obvious that disappointment could be a feeling experienced by the Hilltoppers. However, coach Pete Mastandrea looked at the big picture. It's a picture that sees his team, hit hard by graduation and with just four seniors on the roster, off to a 5-1 start.
"We are young at key positions. We lost some four-year starters. Kaneland is a great squad. They're feisty and my hats off to them," he said.
Glenbard West began the final day of the two-day tournament with a 25-23, 20-25, 29-25 victory and then downed Glenbard South 25-12, 23-25, 25-11 to advance to the final.
Glenbard West was defending tournament champ in 2015 and had beaten Kaneland in that final. It was Kaneland's first Wheaton North tourney title.
The Knights led most of Game 2 and enjoyed a five-point advantage three times. Mostly, though, Kaneland had Glenbard West right on its heels. The Knights led 23-22 when they got the serve back. The Hilltoppers were called for a double hit and a kill by Kaneland's Jessica Weber sealed the tourney title for the Knights.
The opening game saw Kaneland a little more in control, keeping a consistent grip on a 5-6-point lead and scoring four of the last six points to get the victory.
Hannah Brodner and Katie Ryan made the all-tournament squad. Brodner finished with 17 assists and 7 digs against the Knights. Ella Ridinger and Gabi Marquez led in kills with 6 apiece. Amanda Patterson had 3 and Ellory Graff 2. Claire Wagner had 14 digs with Roxy Stirb and Sophia Alles with 5 apiece.
"I'm happy with 5-1 from a team trying to find its identity," Mastandrea said.
Wheaton North coach Carole Kristensen was also looking at the big picture. Her Falcons finished third with a 25-9, 25-19 win over Glenbard South to move to 5-1 on the season.
"We're coming along. We were disappointed we didn't get into the final, but we have things to strive for," she said.
Wheaton North controlled Game 1 from the start, leading by 11 to 12 points late before Madison Schorle took over serving. An ace by her, kills by teammates McKenna Otto, Emmy Barnhorst and Annika Nelson and a Glenbard South hitting error put the Falcons up 23-8 and they never looked back.
The Raiders stayed closer to Wheaton North in Game 2, but except for a 7-7 deadlock, the Falcons led the entire time. A Wheaton North hitting error pulled Glenbard South to within 21-18, but the Falcons scored four of the final five points.
Schorle and Barnhorst were all-tournament picks. Schorle racked up 7 aces and 17 digs and Barnhorst 7 aces, 9 kills and 8 blocks in the three matches Wheaton North played in Saturday.
"I told the girls that this a journey. We're working out the kinks and not expected to be at the top of our game, but we're striving. It's the big picture. We're playing for the end of October and early November," Kristensen said.
Senior Bella Bauman represented Glenbard South on the all-tournament squad.
Naperville North finished fifth in the tournament with Sarah Kushner named all-tournament. Montini was seventh wtih Bethany Loftus chosen all-tournament.