Prospect's girls volleyball team has started the season winless in nonconference action.
But in conference play, it's a very different story.
The Knights booked their second win in a row in the Mid-Suburban East on Tuesday night at Wheeling by outlasting the Wildcats 25-13, 18-25, 25-20.
Prospect (2-4, 2-0) snapped a five-match winning streak by Wheeling (11-9, 0-2), which gave Hersey a tough two-set battle last week.
Senior Meghan Meredith played key role at the net for the Knights with 8 kills and 2 blocks, including the match winner off a set from junior Gianna Russo (14 assists).
Just moments earlier, junior Emma Cogan registered her eighth kill of the match and then was the server for match point.
"Our energy was very down in that second set," Meredith said. "We were all kind of in a rut -- but in set three our energy was up again, we got excited and that's what won the game for us."
Meredith, who plans to focus on academics and not compete at the collegiate level, says the Knights have been more focused their last two matches.
"The first four matches we were kind of down but everyone definitely picked it up and got our skills down," she said. "Everyone worked really hard and it's been really good so far. We just needed a little practice together and more communication."
Libero Valerie Thomas kept things together in the back row for the Knights, collecting a team-high 14 digs.
"Those first four losses were like a reality check," said Thomas who had one of the Knights' 4 aces along with setter Sarah Skaggs, Grace Cacini and Russo. "Those losses hit us and got us working hard in practice. When we step out on court, we just give it everything we have."
Wheeling gave its everything in Set 2, and turned a 13-13 tie into a 20-15 advantage.
The rally included a quick set from Jessica Janowski to Nosa Igiehon, who put down the kill. Igiehon also had a block in the run while Jazmyn Velsoso serebd an ace and Rugile Jaciunas recorded a kill.
Kamila Staniszewski had big service run at the end, including 2 aces which put Wheeling in front 24-17 before Remy Jankowski put down the set winner.
"I don't think we were nervous after that set," Thomas said. "We were just determined to get back in and win the third game. It kind of shocked us when they came back and were winning the second set. It got into our heads. But we stuck with it in the third set."
The final set was tied eight times, the last at 17-17. Prospect used a kill from senior Sloane Petlak, a slide kill by Meredith on a set from Skaggs (11 assists) and an ace by Thomas to gain a 20-17 lead prompting Wheeling coach Jason Kopkowski to call for a timeout.
"They (Prospect) do a great job keeping defenses off balance because they have a lot of hitters running different sorts of plays and options," Kopkowski said. "We didn't do a very good job tracking their hitters and I think that's what allowed for their execution. Plus, by not tracking, they got momentum."
Kopkowski didn't think his team applied enough pressure on offense.
"We were a little one-dimensional," he said. "Our passing was off, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do. They made great passes, got their hitters running and put some power behind their hits."
Petlak finished with 6 kills while Cacini and Skaggs each had 9 digs.
"I think we're getting to know each other," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber. "We're a young team, and it takes some time to get these younger players accustomed to the speed of the game that we normally play. So we're giving them time to acclimate to the varsity level. We have three sophomores playing now (Cacini, Skaggs and Mia Farraday, who is playing back row)."
After the timeout at 20-17 in the third set, the Wildcats' Remy Jankowski produced back-to-back kills to get Wheeling to within 20-19.
But Prospect got a kill from Cogan, a block from Meredith and a kill from Meredith off a 4-foot set from Russo, to extend the lead back to 23-20 forcing Kopkowski to call his second timeout.
"We got a little too loose with our approach." Kopkowski said. "We've just got to go back to drawing board and be ready to play when the whistle blows again on Thursday (at Rolling Meadows).
Gerber liked how her team shook off Set 2.
"We were able to come back and play aggressively in that third game," she said. "We made a lot of errors in the second set. We cleaned up our game. It's always nice to be able to finish when you play three sets."